Far different from the stereotypes or common images that are portrayed on film, on television, and in many books and stories, American Indians have many different cultures, languages, religions, styles of dress, and ways of life. To learn about these different groups is to take an exciting journey of discovery in which you will meet some of America's most fascinating peoples.


  1. Give the history of one American Indian tribe, group, or nation that lives or has lived near you. Visit it, if possible. Tell about traditional dwellings, way of life, tribal government, religious beliefs, family and clan relationships, language, clothing styles, arts and crafts, food preparation, means of getting around, games, customs in warfare, where members of the group now live, and how they live.
  2. Do TWO of the following. Focus on a specific group or tribe.
    1. Make an item of clothing worn by members of the tribe.
    2. Make and decorate three items used by the tribe, as approved by your counselor.
    3. Make an authentic model of a dwelling used by an Indian tribe, group, or nation.
    4. Visit a museum to see Indian artifacts. Discuss them with your counselor. Identify at least 10 artifacts by tribe or nation, their shape, size, and use.
  3. Do ONE of the following:
    1. Learn three games played by a group or tribe. Teach and lead one game with a Scout group.
    2. Learn and show how a tribe traditionally cooked or prepared food. Make three food items.
    3. Give a demonstration showing how a specific Indian group traditionally hunted, fished, or trapped.
  4. Do ONE of the following:
    1. Write or briefly describe how life might have been different for the European settlers if there had been no native Americans to meet them when they came to this continent.
    2. Sing two songs in an Indian language. Explain their meanings.
    3. Learn in an Indian language at least 25 common terms and their meanings.
    4. Show 25 signs in Indian sign language. Include those that will help you ask for water, for food, and where the path or road leads.
    5. Learn in English (or the language you commonly speak at home or in the troop) an Indian story of at least 25 words, or any number of shorter ones adding up to 300 words. Tell the story or stories at a Scout meeting or campfire.
    6. Write or tell about eight things adopted by others from American Indians.
    7. Learn 25 Indian place names. Tell their origins and meanings.
    8. Name five well-known American Indian leaders, either from the past or people of today. Give their tribes or nations. Describe what they did or do now that makes them notable.
    9. Learn about the Iroquois Confederacy, including how and why it was formed. Tell about its governing system. Describe some of the similarities and differences between the governments of the United States and of the Six Nations (The Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy). 


Scouting Literature

American Cultures, American Heritage, Archaeology, Archery, Architecture, Basketry, Canoeing, Citizenship in the Nation, Environmental Science, Leatherwork, Metalwork, Pottery, Sculpture, Textile, Wilderness Survival, and Wood Carving merit badge pamphlets
"The First Americans," an eight-part series. Boys' Life magazine. May-December 1993.


  • Aaseng, Nathan. Navajo Code Talkers. Walker, 2002.
  • Ancona, George. Powwow. Harcourt Brace, 1993.
  • Bierhorst, John. A Cry From the Earth: Music of the North American Indians. Ancient City Press, 1992.
  • Brown, Steven C., and Paz Cabello Carro, editors. Spirits of the Water: Native Art Collected on Expeditions to Alaska and British Columbia, 1774-1910. University of Washington Press, 2000.
  • Bruchac, James, and Joseph Bruchac. Native American Games and Stories. Fulcrum, 2000.
  • Bruchac, Joseph. Flying With the Eagle, Racing the Great Bear: Stories From Native North America. Troll, 1995.
  • --------. The Heart of a Chief. Puffin, 2001.
  • Crum, Robert. Eagle Drum: On the Powwow Trail With a Young Grass Dancer. Simon & Schuster, 1994.
  • Echo-Hawk, Roger C., and Walter R. Echo-Hawk. Battlefields and Burial Grounds: The Indian Struggle to Protect Ancestral Graves in the United States. Lerner, 1994.
  • Erdoes, Richard, and Alfonso Ortiz, editors. American Indian Myths and Legends. Pantheon, 1984.
  • Freedman, Russell. Buffalo Hunt. Holiday House, 1995.
  • --------. Indian Chiefs. Holiday House, 1992.
  • Indians of North America. Chelsea House. Separate books on major American Indian cultures.
  • Johansen, Bruce E., and Donald A. Grinde Jr. The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography: Six Hundred Life Stories of Important People, From Powhatan to Wilma Mankiller. Da Capo Press, 1998.
  • Laubin, Reginald, and Gladys Laubin. The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use. University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.
  • Maynard, Jill, editor. Through Indian Eyes: The Untold Story of Native American Peoples. Reader's Digest, 1996.
  • Monroe, Jean Guard, and Ray Williamson. First Houses: Native American Homes and Sacred Structures. Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
  • Montgomery, David. Native American Crafts and Skills: A Fully Illustrated Guide to Wilderness Living and Survival. Lyons Press, 2000.
  • Murdoch, David. Eyewitness: North American Indian. DK Publishing, 2000.
  • Olsen, Madeline. Native American Sign Language. Troll, 1998.
  • Perdue, Theda. Nations Remembered: An Oral History of the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles in Oklahoma, 1865-1907. University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.
  • Plog, Stephen. Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest (Ancient Peoples and Places). Thames & Hudson, 1998.
  • Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Robbins, Mari Lu. Native Americans. Teacher Created Materials, 1994.
  • Seton, Ernest Thompson. Sign Talk of the Cheyenne Indians and Other Cultures. Dover, 2000.
  • Sherrow, Victoria. Indians of the Plateau and Great Basin. (Others in series.) Facts on File, 1992.
  • Terry, Michael Bad Hand. Daily Life in a Plains Indian Village, 1868. Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
  • Thomas, David Hurst. Exploring Ancient Native America. Routledge, 1999.
  • --------. Exploring Native North America (Places in Time). Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Waldman, Carl. Atlas of the North American Indian. Facts on File, 2000.
  • --------. Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Checkmark Books, 1999.
  • Weatherford, Jack. Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World. Fawcett, 1990.
  • Wolfson, Evelyn. From the Earth to Beyond the Sky: Native American Medicine. Houghton Mifflin, 1993.