K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Related pages

  • Junaluska Memorial and Museum: Named an interpretive site along the Trail of Tears, the Junaluska Memorial and Museum "highlights the unique place Graham County has in the history of the Cherokee."
  • Museum of the Cherokee Indian: Official site of the museum of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.
  • North Carolina Cherokee Indians: The Trail of Tears: In this two week unit, students will study the Cherokee by participating in literature circles, learning about Native American story telling, writing a letter to Andrew Jackson to protest against the Creek War, and more.

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Planning a unit on American Indians and not sure where to start? We’ve assembled a guide with lesson plans, articles, and the very best websites available on the internet to help you teach about America’s first people. Don’t miss the field trip opportunities from Discover NC!

Guides for teachers

Teaching about North Carolina American Indians
This web edition is drawn from a teachers institute curriculum enrichment project on North Carolina American Indian Studies conducted by the North Carolina Humanities Council. Resources include best practices for teaching about American Indians, suggestions for curriculum integration, webliographies, lesson plans about North Carolina American Indians, and audio recordings of Cherokee language and folklore.
Intrigue of the Past
Lesson plans about the fundamental concepts, processes, and issues of archaeology, as well as essays for the teacher with detailed information about four periods in North Carolina’s ancient history.

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Student readings and multimedia

From North Carolina Digital History, our “digital textbook.” A search for “American Indians” from the front page will give you a complete, up-to-date list of resources, but here are some highlights:

Native Carolinians
Readings for students on the archaeology and history of North Carolina before Europeans arrived, including a discussion of how our understanding of North Carolinia’s first peoples continues to evolve.
We Have a Story to Tell: Native Peoples of the Chesapeake Region
Republished with permission from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, this edition explores historical and current issues faced by the Indians of the Chesapeake Bay, and includes a student project that uses primary sources to engage students with one of three issues faced by Chesapeake Indians — the effects of treaty-making, the denial of civil rights, and the importance of legal recognition.
The Tuscarora War and Cary’s Rebellion
In early 18th century North Carolina, clashes between coThis chapter explores the fate of the native peoples of eastern North Carolina, analyzes their conflicts with colonists, presents the words of both sides, and discusses what happened to them after 1720.
Fort Dobbs and the French and Indian War in North Carolina
From Fort Dobbs State Historic Site, a brief history of the fighting between colonists and Cherokee during the 1750s and 1760s. Includes photos from a reenactment.
The Rutherford Expedition
The Cherokee sided with the British in the War for Independence, and North Carolina revolutionaries attacked Cherokee villages. Led by General Griffith Rutherford, they burned villages and destroyed crops and food supplies. Developed by the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, primary sources, an overview essay, and maps tell the story.
Cherokee Removal and the Trail of Tears
Primary sources and an overview essay tell the story of the Cherokee’s forced removal from their homeland by the U.S. Army, including Cherokee attempts to resist and the establishment of the Eastern Band.

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Lesson Plans

Two comprehensive guides for teachers, Teaching about North Carolina American Indians and Intrigue of the Past, also contain dozens of lesson plans.

American Indians

The Removal of the Cherokee Indians
This lesson allows students to assess the influence of the Trail of Tears. Students will read a brief history of the Cherokee Indians, past and present. They will watch the Unto These Hills video and read excerpts from Native Americans and government officials during the Indian Removal. Students will write an essay supporting or opposing the Indian Removal Act. (Grades 9-12)
Not “Indians,” Many Tribes: Native American Diversity
Students will heighten their awareness of Native American diversity as they learn about three vastly different Native groups in a game-like activity using archival documents such as vintage photographs, traditional stories, photos of artifacts, and recipes. (Grades 3 & 5)
Native American Cultures across the U.S.
This EDSITEment lesson discusses the differences between five Native American tribes within the U.S. Students will learn about customs and traditions such as housing, agriculture, and ceremonial dress for the Tlingit, Dine, Lakota, Muscogee, and Iroquois peoples. (Grades K-2)
Traditions and Languages of Three Native Cultures: Tlingit, Lakota, & Cherokee
Students learn about the environment, history, language, and culture of the Tlingit, Lakota, and Cherokee. (Grades K-2)

North Carolina Indians

Native Carolinians — Lessons from “Two Worlds: Educator’s Guide”
This collection of lesson plans, activities, and additional materials for teachers accompanies the Native Carolinians chapter of the North Carolina digital history textbook. The chapter discusses what we know about the first residents of North Carolina. Lesson plans and activities explore theories of migration, religious views, agricultural practices, and the distinct cultures of the mountains, Piedmont, and coast. (Grade 8)
Cherokee Relocation
Using primary sources from the Documenting the American South collection, students will investigate the boundaries of the Cherokee lands set for North Carolina after the Revolutionary War. (Grade 8)
A Comprehensive Study of North Carolina Indian Tribes
Students will apply their research skills of gathering and validating information to study the eight state recognized American Indian tribes of North Carolina in order to create an Honors U.S. History Project. Students then will create a comprehensive study of those tribes to be compiled into a notebook to be copied and shared with the eighth grade teachers of North Carolina History in our county. (Grades 11 & 12)
First Americans of North Carolina and the United States
This lesson will use shared reading, center time, hands-on projects, and journal writing to help learners discover facts about first Americans, particularly those in the region that is today North Carolina, while at the same time developing their English language skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. (Grade K)
North Carolina place names
This lesson contrasts and compares the names that Native Americans living in North Carolina gave to their villages and places with the names that European and other settlers gave to theirs. (Grade 8)

More lesson plans

Browse our collection for additional lesson plans about American Indians.

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American Indians

Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian
This site presents the 2226 photographs taken by Edward S. Curtis for his work The North American Indian. Included are images of tribes from Great Plains, Great Basin, Plateau Region, Southwest, California, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska.
Who Stole the Tee Pee? An online exhibit of the National Museum of the American Indian
Historical artifacts from the National Museum of the American Indian and art by contemporary Native Americans is utilized to explore changes and the causes of changes in Native American cultures since the 1900s. This website asks what happened to the traditions of Native Americans, offers a look beyond clichés about Indians, and looks at Native Americans as artists, as a community, and as individuals.
American Indians and the Natural World

An introductory exploration into the cultures of the Tlingit, the Hopi, the Iroquois, and the Lakota tribes of Native Americans.

North Carolina Indians

The Museum of the Native American Resource Center
The exhibits on display at this museum include prehistoric tools and weapons, 19th century Lumbee artifacts, contemporary Indian art and items which represent Native Americans from all over North America.
The Lumbee Tribe
This official site of the Lumbee Indian Tribe of North Carolina provides the history of the tribe with a timeline of events as well as information on the culture of the tribe including religion, way of life, language, education, and more.
Museum of the Cherokee Indian
Official site of the museum of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.
Town Creek Indian Mound
This site provided by the North Carolina Division of Archives and History contains information about visiting Town Creek, a section on Montgomery County and the vicinity, a Native American Cultural Synopsis, and a section on the Pee Dee Culture.
Roanoke Revisited Heritage Education Program
This resource from the National Park Service’s Fort Raleigh site includes a wealth of information on Roanoke. Of particular interest is Unit Four, which offers detailed accounts of Native American life in the 1580s, covering such topics as towns, dwellings, transportation, agriculture, hunting and fishing, cooking, religion, and dress.
Family Stories from the Trail of Tears
The Sequoyah Research Center offers this collection of narratives collected by the WPA in the 1930s, most of which share stories of the trail of tears that were handed down from parents and grandparents. Several of these accounts are from North Carolina and all present a rare first-hand glimpse into the experience of Indian Removal from a native perspective.
Never That Far: Lumbee Men and World War II
This site from UNC-Pembroke offers oral history interviews with Lumbee veterans of the Second World War. Sources like this one provide an excellent opportunity to integrate American Indian history with the larger story of U.S. history in a seamless way. Video requires RealPlayer.

More websites

Browse our collection for additional websites about American Indians.

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Best Practices

Two comprehensive guides for teachers, Teaching about North Carolina American Indians and Intrigue of the Past, also contain classroom best practices.

Teaching about Thanksgiving
Resources and activities to help you bring historical accuracy, cultural sensitivity, and a broader context to discussions about the quintessentially American holiday.
Teaching About Native American Issues
This resource from Understanding Prejudice provides teachers with some do’s and don’t’s for teaching about American Indians thoughtfully and respectfully.
North Carolina’s First Colonists: 12,000 Years Before Roanoke
This article, by Stephen R. Claggett of the Office of State Archaeology in the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, provides an overview of North Carolina’s prehistory as well as an introduction to archaeological methods and their uses for unearthing the ancient past of our state.

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Field trips

Hanging Rock State Park
Students will learn about the Sauratown Mountains and the Saura Indians for which the mountains were named at Hanging Rock State Park. Ranger led programs are available for class field trips which correlate to the North Carolina curriculum for 5th through 8th grades.
Oconaluftee Indian Village
A model of a Cherokee Indian Village from over 250 years ago with guides in native costume to answer questions and explain their heritage.
Indian Museum of the Carolinas
This Native American museum features the Indians of the past, present day Indian groups and Indians of North America.
Meherrin Indian Tribe
Attend a Pow-Wow and see demonstrations of Meherrin Indian culture through dance, a drum competition, pottery, and beading.

More field trips

For more field trip options by county, use the interactive map in Discover NC!

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