Whether from childhood poems such as Hiawatha, from stories such as Peter Pan or from studying culture, Native American gifts seem to hold a special place in children’s imaginations. Going directly to Native Americans can forge a strong link with a gift that the child will remember.
The Wampanoag Tribe
The Wampanoag Tribe has dwelled for more than 12,000 years in the area of the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth Rock. The Wampanoags and their children traded and shared gifts with the Pilgrims and their children, including the gift of food. One Native American gift to share with kids is the recipe for Succotash. Kids can help cook this 17th century food made of corn and beans with other ingredients on hand, such as meat, corn flour and diced nuts.
The history of the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims lives on at the history experience at Plimouth Plantation. Here the gift shops are stocked with Native American gifts for kids. Books include A Dreamcatcher Book by Dale Carson, whose prose explains this Native American cultural icon. Small traditional dolls show Native American clothing. Wampum, the shell-based bartering and monetary system, is a cultural and practical Native American gift for kids.
The Hopi Tribe
The Hopi tribal lands are found In the northeast corner of present-day Arizona. One of several tribes of Pueblos living in the Southwest United States, these Native Americans kept their lands and their culture, without being moved during pioneer settlement. In the Hopi tribe, the older children were busy with chores and responsibilities, such as fishing and hunting. Younger Hopi children played with dolls and toys. They all enjoyed games.
The Hopis have many resources for gifts for kids. Native American languages can fascinate kids. The gift of learning <href=”#language”>the Hopi language includes new vocabulary, pronunciation and meanings to help kids understand the Hopi culture and exercise their memory. Younger kids are engaged by photos of a horse, bear and buffalo, and learning that these animals are called kawayo, hoonaw and mosayru.
Hopi Kachina dolls are designed for spiritual purposes more than for small children. The dolls are fine gifts for kids, who may learn to create the dolls themselves.
The Yakama Indian Nation
On the way to the Pacific Coast, explorers Lewis and Clark met members of the Yakama Nation, living along streams and rivers lining the valleys and mountains of present-day central Washington State. The Yakama tribe traveled on horseback and feasted on deer and fresh Pacific salmon. Lewis and Clark praised the Yakamas’ beautiful beadwork and clothing made of soft deer hide.
The Yakama Nation museum offers kids a glimpse into the Yakama culture. Many of the museum gift shop items are made by Yakama tribal members. The selection includes beaded bags, moccasins and barrettes. Yakamas also make bolo ties, clothing and jewelry. Books such as Kamiakin by A.J. Splawn tell the story of warriors who defended the Yakama land. All of these gifts help kids understand the culture of the Yakama tribe.