Buffy Sainte-Marie
Nihewan Foundation
Photo©: Aaron Harris



    Many children want to know about Native American people
and cultures. Many teachers would like to help them learn.
The need for enriching, accurate teaching materials in mainstream
education about American Indians has never been greater—
especially for teachers of younger children, since there are so many
different Native cultures, and each one is so rich.

    All children belong to at least one culture group. We can
strengthen every child’s personal identity and interest in their own
and other cultures by providing great materials and engaging their
curiosity. This book is a collection of brief profiles of Native
American tribes and culture groups designed to give school-age
children a snapshot of the wealth of information there is to learn.

    During the five years that I spent on Sesame Street, I tried to
convey in the Native American episodes one message above all:
Indians Exist. We are alive and real. We have fun, friends, families,
and a whole lot to contribute to the rest of the world through our
reality. The Cradleboard Teaching Project, a program of the
Nihewan Foundation, is one way to get this message across.
Cradleboard helps children get to know one another through cross-
cultural communication, using whatever means they have.

    Native American children, like all children, are not only their
cultures. Even kids from the most traditional Native backgrounds
have much in common with all other children: they have families,
they grow and change every day, they love and work and play.

    Many Native American children, through their families and
communities, experience a special cultural richness. These kids
understand that they live in a special relationship between the earth
and the sky; that they are related to all other creatures; that their
cultures are unique and precious. They also know many hard truths:
that their native languages are greatly endangered; that their
ancestors experienced hatred and violence in their own country;
that much of their greatness is unknown to most other people.

    But Native children, like all children, should also know that
there is tremendous good work to be done in which they can share.
They have a future.

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Children of Native America Today
copyright 2003 Shakti for Children, Inc.
Used with permission by Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.