Historical Happenings in November 2022
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we want to share our gratitude for the time and encouragement you pour into your students. Thank you for your dedication to education and for making your classroom a safe place to learn. The historical tidbits, lesson plan ideas, and free resources below are our small way of saying “thank you” so you can enjoy your Thanksgiving Break!
November 1-30 – Native American Heritage Month
Native Americans’ (or American Indian or Indigenous American, as some Native people prefer to be called) heritage, history, and contributions are celebrated every November. Native American Heritage Month officially began in 1990 with a joint resolution signed by President George H.W. Bush declaring November “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Before 1990, this celebration of Native Americans was limited to a day, first called American Indian Day. The idea for American Indian Day originated with Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian and co-founder of the Society of American Indians, in 1915.
Here are a few resources you can use to teach your students about Native American Heritage Month.
“Am I Using the Right Word?” Handout: When celebrating Native American Heritage Month in the classroom, it’s important to understand the appropriate terminology when referring to Native people. The National Museum of the American Indian recommends using the name of a Native person’s tribe or nation whenever possible. Still, terms such as American Indian, Native American, Indigenous, and Native are acceptable. For more information, check out the National Museum of the American Indian’s guide on terminology.
“American Indian History and Heritage” Teacher’s Guide: These lesson plans by the National Endowment for the Humanities EDSITEment help students learn about the different cultures, languages, and histories of several Native tribes. Each unit is categorized by grade level and features different resources, such as poetry, primary sources, and activities.
Smithsonian Folkways’ “Music Lessons”: Sing, dance, and clap along to music by Native American artists. These lesson plans highlight the cultures and traditions of the Choctaw and Cherokee, Inuit, Apache and Pacific Northwest Native Americans, and the Navajo through songs and discussion questions.
November 11 - Veterans Day
Every November 11, veterans from all branches of the U.S. military are recognized for their sacrifice and service. This holiday began in 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson decreed November 11 as the first Armistice Day to commemorate the end of WWI. Armistice Day became a federally recognized holiday in 1938, and it served as a day to celebrate veterans of WWI. Following WWII, the holiday was amended in 1954 to include veterans of both World Wars and subsequent wars, and the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day.
Salute veterans using these activities and resources!
Red Cross Holidays for Heroes: Give back to the veterans in your community through the Red Cross Holidays for Heroes program. Red Cross offices throughout the country organize events and activities for veterans and their families, and the public is welcome to help! Contact your local Red Cross office for more information on ways your class can participate.
Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces: Beginning with the American Revolution, many Native nations and tribes joined forces with the U.S. military to fight various wars and battles. The Why We Serve program by the National Museum of the American Indian honors their history and service. Through this program, your students will discover different Nations’ warrior traditions, such as the Diné (Navajo) people’s Enemy Way ceremony, which “heals and restores balance” following battle. You can also teach your students about the history of WWI and WWII code talkers who used their Indigenous language to encode and decode secret military messages.
November 15, 1777 - Articles of Confederation Adopted by the Second Continental Congress
While it’s not the U.S. Constitution we know and love today, the Articles of Confederation was America’s first constitution. The Articles of Confederation laid the groundwork for the laws that now govern the U.S., thanks to the Second Continental Congress. The Second Continental Congress appointed a committee comprised of one representative from each colony to write the Articles of Confederation, which was later adopted on November 15, 1777. 
The Articles of Confederation outlined the states’ rights in terms of governance and representation. Under the Articles of Confederation, each state was given one vote in Congress regardless of the state’s population. Unanimous approval from all states was required for the Articles of Confederation to be amended or adopted. The Articles of Confederation went into effect in 1781 after receiving the necessary ratification from all 13 states.
Sharpen your feathered quill and fill out these Articles of Confederation activities with your students!
View the Articles of Confederation: View all six of the original pages from the Articles of Confederation using DocsTeach’s interactive website. You can also print out a transcript of the document for your students to follow along with.
November 19, 1863 - The Gettysburg Address
In just two minutes and in less than 275 words, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most powerful presidential speeches in U.S. history. Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in — you guessed it — Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, at the dedication ceremony of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, where more than 3,500 Union soldiers were laid to rest.
The cemetery was founded following the Battle of Gettysburg, which was fought on July 1-3, 1863. The battle resulted in approximately 3,100 casualties for the Union and 3,900 casualties for the Confederacy. In his address, Lincoln reflected on the battle, saying, “We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live.”
Learn more about this historic speech using these resources:
Transcript of the Gettysburg Address: Download the National Park Service’s transcript of Lincoln’s speech and read it out loud with your students. For additional fun, invite your students to dress up like Lincoln — top hat, beard, and all — and deliver the speech to the class.
Gettysburg Battlefield and Cemetery Virtual Tour: Instead of chartering a school bus to visit Gettysburg, you and your students can virtually explore the battlefield and the cemetery using the National Park Service’s virtual tours.
November 24 - Thanksgiving
Whether your favorite part of Thanksgiving is the food, fellowship, or Black Friday deals that follow, this holiday has deep cultural significance and a long history. So, before you ask for seconds of pumpkin pie, learn the history behind your favorite Thanksgiving dishes and the holiday itself!
The First Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 when the European settlers (later referred to as Pilgrims in the 1800s) of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the Wampanoag Tribe feasted for three days to celebrate a successful harvest. Thanksgiving was unofficially celebrated over the next two hundred years, but it wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. His proclamation was in response to the brutality of the Civil War and the need for prayer for “all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife.”
Now that you know more about Thanksgiving, dig into ways you can celebrate the holiday with your students, but be sure to save room for dessert!
Host a Thanksgiving Feast: Teach your students the mouth-watering history of Thanksgiving dishes. Pumpkin and pecan pies weren’t on the menu in 1621 due to diminishing sugar supplies on the Mayflower.  Mashed potatoes weren’t on the table either, as potatoes hadn’t yet made their debut in North America. Instead, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Tribe ate vegetables, fruits, seafood, and poultry. Whether or not a turkey was served is up for debate, but regardless of its historical accuracy, it’s a Thanksgiving staple. According to the National Turkey Federation, 90 percent of Americans serve turkey at Thanksgiving.[15 Pay homage to this celebration by hosting your own feast with your students. Ask each student to bring a dish to your classroom to share. Invite other classes to participate, or make it a school-wide event!
“Rethinking Thanksgiving Celebrations: Native Perspectives on Thanksgiving” Resources: Combine your celebrations of Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving by learning ways to appropriately represent Native Americans’ Thanksgiving traditions. The National Museum of the American Indian’s lessons include resources for teaching students about the Wampanoag Tribe, a Thanksgiving activity to learn about corn's historical and cultural significance, a Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, and the meaning of Thanksgiving for Native people.
Sources:  “The Impact of Words and Tips for Using Appropriate Terminology: Am I Using the Right Word?” National Museum of the American Indian - Smithsonian, https://americanindian.si.edu/nk360/informational/impact-words-tips. Accessed 26 October 2022.  “About National Native American Heritage Month.” Native American Heriage Month, https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/about/. Accessed 26 October 2022.  “American Inidian History and Heritage.”  “History of Veterans Day.” VA | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, https://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp. Accessed 28 October 2022.  “Culutures of War.” Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces, National Museum of the American Indian. https://americanindian.si.edu/why-we-serve/topics/cultures-of-war/. Accessed 28 October 2022.  “Articles of Confederation (1777).” National Archives, https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/articles-of-confederation. Accessed 28 October 2022.  “On this day, the Articles of Confederation are approved.” National Constitution Center, 1 March 2022, https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/on-this-day-our-first-flawed-constitution-went-into-effect#:~:text=The%20Articles%20required%20unanimous%20consent,ended%20with%20Britain%20in%201783. Accessed 31 October 2022.  “Articles of Confederation (1777).” National Archives, https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/articles-of-confederation. Accessed 31 October 2022.  “The Gettysburg Address.” History, 18 November 2019, https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/gettysburg-address . Accessed 31 October 2022.  “Gettysburg National Cemetary.” Gettysburg Foudation, https://www.gettysburgfoundation.org/soldiers-national-cemetery. Accessed 31 October 2022.  “Gettysburg Address.” National Geographic,  “Who Were the Pilgrims?” Plimoth Patuxet Museums, https://plimoth.org/for-students/homework-help/who-were-the-pilgrims#:~:text='Pilgrim'%20became%20. Accessed 28 October 2022.  “Thanksgiving 2022.” HISTORY, 4 October 2022, https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving. Accessed 26 October 2022.  “First Thanksgiving Meal.” HISTORY, 18 November 2021, https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/first-thanksgiving-meal. Accessed 26 October 2022.  “Thanksgiving 2022.” HISTORY, 4 October 2022, https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving. Accessed 26 October 2022. Photo Credits 1. Chief Joseph, c. 1903. Edward S. Curtis Collection/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 2. Photograph of Navajo Indian Code Talkers Henry Bake and George Kirk. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 3. Gardner, Alexander. Gardner portrait of Lincoln, c. 1863. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 4. Ferris, Jean Leon Gerome. The First Thanksgiving, c. 1932. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.