South Orangetown Central School District

November marks the start of National Native American Heritage Month which celebrates the diverse cultures, traditions, histories and contributions of Native people. Cottage Lane Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders are delving into lessons about the rich ancestry and traditions of Native American culture, both past and present, and exploring Ancient Western and Indigenous civilizations and societies.

In Chris Haggarty and Camille Viola’s class, fourth-graders are learning about the history of Algonquin peoples — one of the most populous and widespread North American Native language groups. Students analyzed illustrations depicting Algonquin moons which were identified and named based on the month and the season.

“The Algonquins still exist today,” explained Haggarty to the class. “We are actively learning about the history and culture of a community that still practices these traditions.”

In Emily Arietta’s fifth-grade class, students are conducting small-group research on the Aztecs, Inca and Maya to learn about the three most dominant civilizations in the Americas preceding the arrival of the Europeans. Students will collaborate on creating and performing a song, skit or play to convey what they have discovered.

“As researchers, we are aiming to find and determine connections between people and regions,” said Arietta. “By doing lots of research, we are each exploring these cultures and learning about just how unique and advanced each one was, as well as how they each contributed to society today.”

Student researches for class project