The Real Story of Thanksgiving: Project for High School

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Thanksgiving is a good opportunity for reflection. This thought-provoking high school project encourages students to consider the well-known Thanksgiving story from a Native American perspective. It includes everything you need to get started — lesson plan, teaching guide, and student worksheets.

Thanksgiving Activities: The Real Story of Thanksgiving

Explore the significance of annual times of harvest in the Wampanoag and Pilgrim cultures by comparing and contrasting the ways in which these holidays were observed. Use the lesson plan, worksheets, and Thanksgiving activities for meaningful and thought-provoking lessons on the first Thanksgiving.

The goal of this project is to deconstruct the story of the first Thanksgiving and reframe it from a Native American perspective. This lesson is designed for use with upper-division high school students, but it can be modified for earlier grade levels, as well as college-level curriculum use.

What's Included: Lesson Plans, Teaching Guide, and Worksheets

This comprehensive project pack for high school students includes everything you need to deliver a series of 5 lessons on the real story of the first Thanksgiving. Explore Native American history and culture with writing activities, critical thinking, and classroom activities.

This printable PDF download includes:

  • Standards-aligned lesson plan
  • Step-by-step teaching guide
  • Assessment and grading guidance
  • Printable student worksheets with answer keys
  • Links to supporting videos, readings, and additional teaching resources.
  • Students will be exposed to the deeper motives involved in the creation of the Thanksgiving Holiday.

  • Students will understand how the misrepresentation of the Wampanoag people affects their current reality and how the birth of The National Day of Mourning came about.

  • Students will understand the Native Americans and colonist relationship.

  • The real Thanksgiving Feast versus Thanksgiving and the impact of the False narrative on American society.

  • Students will gain a comprehensive overview of the historical relationship between food and gratitude from the past to the present.

  • Students will understand colonization and how its logic gets codified into American ideology and core American “myths” that uphold white supremacy and ongoing colonization, erasure of genocide.

Student worksheets
  • Drawing and Symbolism Worksheet
  • Life in the Wampanoag Moccasins Video Worksheet
  • Life in the Settlers’ Shoes Video Worksheet
  • Mourt’s Relations: A Letter Sent from New England to a Friend...
  • The Actual Harvest Feast
  • Thanksgiving Perspectives Group Email/Text Homework
  • Massasoit’s Relations Critical Thinking Take Home Essay
Recommended readings
  • The True Indigenous History of Thanksgiving
  • 3 Ways to Decolonize Thanksgiving
  • Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story
Additional teacher resources
  • The First Thanksgiving Teaching Guide: Grades 6–8
  • Thanksgiving Lesson Plans and Resources
  • Thanksgiving Activities and Worksheets
  • Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
  • Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project History
  • Frank James and the History of the National Day of Mourning
  • The Four “I’s” of Oppression How to “Indigenize” Thanksgiving

Bioneers: Revolution From The Heart Of Nature ​​​​​​​​


​​​​Bioneers is an innovative nonprofit organization that highlights breakthrough solutions for restoring people and planet, with dynamic programs and initiatives focused on game-changing initiatives related to Restorative Food Systems, Biomimicry, Rights of Nature, Indigeneity, Women’s Leadership, and Youth Leadership. Their Indigeneity Program provides accurate and contemporary information about Indigenous science, media, and curriculum for social change.

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