Indigenous Pedagogy

Accordingly consider when teaching about Indigenous/Native American people

When does history begin? Like humanity everywhere, Indigenous/Native American people trace their past in more than years. Scientific evidence shows Native American presence in the area for 10,000 years. But oral history begins with creation, when the Great Spirit created the earth. The earliest clans of the Delaware Tribe included the Wolf clan, or Mohegans, who settled in upstate New York. After migrating to what we now call Connecticut, this group became today's Mohegan Tribe. 

The Mohegan story can be told through the history of its remarkable people and the lands on which they still live. 

It is the hope of the Mohegan Tribe that sharing Mohegan stories, culture and history will encourage a Culturally Responsive Teaching Approach. Our goal is for students to learn about the Mohegan tribe, who has lived in Connecticut since before European settlers. Another goal is that students can tie their own cultures, experiences, stories and interests to their learning. As we know, when students see themselves represented in lessons and curriculum, they feel like they belong. 

Culturally Responsive Teaching gives students a chance to learn from an inclusive curriculum. It helps both the educator and the student understand different perspectives, appreciate others’ strengths, and build empathy. Culturally Responsive Teaching can also help teachers and students reflect on how identity and experiences impact attitudes, teaching practices and learning experiences. ( 

Furthermore, educators should introduce who “Native Americans” are and the proper language to be used. Individuals may use different terms to identify themselves. Some Native Americans like to use this term to identify themselves. Others prefer Indigenous or American Indian. There are Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.  When possible, it is best practice to use Tribal affiliations such as “Mohegan” and the name of a Tribal Nation such as “Mohegan Tribe.” 

Additionally, teach your students 

  1. Native Americans are indigenous to the Americas. 
  2. Native Americans are those that lived here prior to the coming of Europeans. 
  3. The term also refers to the ancestors of those original inhabitants. 
  4. Tribal affiliation, when known, is the primary way most Native Americans identify with.
Introduce and discuss the important concept of Tribal Elders. An Elder can be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle etc. An Elder is depended on for their knowledge and wisdom. Respect for elders is very important in the Mohegan and all Native/Indigenous communities. Elders play a role in teaching our children. Nonner is the Mohegan word for respected elder women. The term means “Tribal Grandmothers”. 

When teaching a topic on a Native American Tribe, always introduce that Tribe first. For example, when using a Mohegan Tribal story or using any of the units provided, be sure to introduce some background information on the Mohegan Tribe.  (This should be the practice when teaching about any Tribe).  

Learn before teaching on these specific Mohegan topics. Educators should familiarize themselves with the Mohegan Tribe. The “Meet the Mohegans section on this website is available to do just that. It provides a historical overview for educators which provides educators with some background knowledge.  Also available are some slides/visuals with accompanying teacher notes of the Massapequotuck (Thames) River. These are to teach students about the Mohegan homeland and the resources of this river. Additionally, the Interactive Map, also available to you on this website, is a great resource to show locations and important sites of the Mohegan Tribe. 

Be sure to convey that Mohegan ancestors were in Connecticut long before Europeans and others as hunters, gatherers, farmers, and fishers. Today we are businesspeople, educators, firefighters, lawyers, construction workers etc.  Most of us have remained here close to our homelands, but we also live all over the United States and the world.  Our community and reservation may be close to your school. A map is a good teaching tool. Our interactive map is a great place to start.