Native American Words in the English Language

This activity can help students understand that words – and languages – are living, changing human creations. It alerts them to the continuing contribution that Native American languages are making to contemporary English. Such words are a testament to the hybridizations of cultures and communication systems which have been taking place ever since European colonists began moving into the First American’s homelands, territories that they (the Indigenous People / the Native Americans) had already been stewarding for thousands of years…

This project challenges students to use their imaginations to draw pictures and create scenarios that will illustrate as many of these Native American words as possible. Alternately, they could just focus on beautifully representing a few of the words that most intrigue them. The drawings can be placed right on the worksheet or on completely different papers.

I highly recommend displaying the finished art so that the children can share their insights, interests, and talents with a wider audience. They can also inform their viewers about the Native American origins of some common ‘English’ words.