Celebrating Indigenous Day

Culinary integration that honors and celebrates the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and their history and culture.

3rd-5th Grade Social Studies: 

Native American Culture and Traditional Eats  

TNSS- 3.19, TNSS 5.28, 4.RL.KID.3, TNSS-4.01

(3rd) Learning Target 1: Students will compare and contrast the foods typically eaten in different Native American tribes throughout America.

(5th) Learning Target 2: Students will identify and write to inform about the different customs and traditions found within Tennessee Native American tribes.

(4th) Learning Target 3: Students can describe in depth an event from Sign of the Beaver, drawing on specific details in a text to bring it to life. 


When I began teaching, it became increasingly more common and concerning to witness the “close-minded naiveté” that graced my classroom. I was teaching my fourth graders about the conflict that arose when colonial settlements intruded on Native American lands and I piqued their interest by showing them a clip of PBS’ Native America trailer. It depicted many visuals and voices of Native American life, traditions, and customs. One little girl immediately shouted her disgust and disbelief after seeing their clothing, accent, and their overall well-being. This led me down the rabbit hole of discussion about unique identities, communities, customs, and traditions that make each human unique and special. With this, I realized I may have overreacted. At that moment, it occurred to me how important it was to expose all students to the different races and customs that helped build America… but more importantly, that weave through all the corners of the world. 

These recipes can be used interchangeably for third, fourth, or fifth grade classes. No matter the situation, students can use their knowledge from the culinary lab to deepen their understanding that Native Americans have propagated crops that wouldn’t be around today without their expert farming techniques. Students can read, write, and verbally report how Native Americans have opened the door to various culinary creations around the world.  

“From acorn bread to fry bread, succotash to beef stew, Native American cuisine has been a staple in homes across America for centuries.” 

Resources that will supplement the cooking process: 

Native American Foods Throughout the United States
Text Set:
Native Americans:

Native Americans - Traditional Native American Homes


Sign of the Beaver-- Students will read Sign of the Beaver & reflect on living in the wilderness during the late 1760s.

Chapter 3: “He was busying himself now to make this stranger welcome. He scooped out a good measure of flour, stirred in some water, patted the dough out on a clean ash board, and propped it up in front of the fire to bake. He laid the two bowls on the table and the two pewter spoons. He poured molasses into the one pewter dish. Then ladled the hot stew into the bowls.” 

Chapter 16 Native American Celebration 

Possible recipes used in the lesson 

Native American Maize Cake Recipe

For many Native American tribes corn, also known as maize, was planted as a primary source of food. Native Americans baked maize cakes, called “appone” or “ponop” using ground dried corn, water, and salt. These snacks were basically simpler versions of modern day cornbread. Native Americans also used cornmeal to make a porridge called “samp”. 


  • 2 cups self-rising cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp melted butter or margarine
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water (approx.)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the cornmeal and butter together and add enough boiling water to make a semi-stiff mush.

Step 2: Using your hands, form elongated 3-inch “bun” shapes, and place on a greased baking sheet.

Step 3: Bake at 375°F for about 15 minutes or until edges start to brown. Let cool and enjoy!


Three Sisters Stew

 Corn, beans, and squash are full of healthy fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals - and when combined together become this delicious Three Sisters Stew.

  • 1 red onion, diced small
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 can diced green chiles (7 oz)
  • 1 cup yukon gold potatoes, diced evenly
  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced evenly
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium
  • 1 can kidney beans, 15 oz, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, 15 oz, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, 15oz, I like fire-roasted
  • 2 cups of water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • small handful fresh parsley or cilantro (optional)


  1. Drain and rinse the beans and corn
  2. Dice the onion and add it to a large soup pot or dutch oven
  3. Simmer onion over med-low heat until softened
  4. Add minced garlic and stir until fragrant - about 30 sec
  5. Add diced chile and stir to combine
  6. Add diced potatoes and stir to combine - add water or broth if needed
  7. Peel squash and dice into the same sized cubes you used for the potatoes
  8. Stir squash into the stew and add the broth
  9. Add the drained corn and beans and stir
  10. Add the tomatoes and stir
  11. Add 2 cups of water and mix well
  12. Bring to a low boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer
  13. Simmer for 30-45 min or until vegetables are tender
  14. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  15. Add a small handful of parsley or cilantro for garnish

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