The most important part of el Día de la Raza activities for Spanish class is bringing to light the richness of Indigenous cultures and helping both ourselves and students understand more about Indigenous Peoples through their own voices.
I’ve created this blog post because I know how time consuming it is to scour the internet looking for authentic videos, resources, and activities.
Here, you’ll find what I think are the best Día de la Raza activities for Spanish class plus videos, resources, and Indigenous Peoples Day activities to go with them.
Indigenous Peoples Day Activities for Spanish Teachers
To start out your lesson plans, a good place to go from is to:
- List some important cognates and vocabulary that students will see constantly for the topic ex: Indigena, pueblo, etc
- Use authentic documents like videos and articles to explain what Dia de la Raza is, in both Spanish and English
- Give students an opportunity to read about it and interpret the readings in authentic but achievable articles in Spanish
- Show students pictures and videos from celebrations so they get a feel for the vibe and point of the day – I have a bunch sampled for you below, and compiled with a research project in this 2 week unit with Dia de la Raza activities for Spanish class here
- Explore from Indigenous perspectives and voices why this holiday exists and why it’s important. You can start with this video below ⬇️
- Continue throughout the year to present Indigenous leaders and voices – there’s a special opportunity to do this through music. Check out my favorite songs to use in Spanish class + activities here
What Does el Día de la Raza Mean?
This video is a compilation of Indigenous Mexicans on their experiences of discrimination.
This one is a really good news special about the current precarious situation of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America, including a special report on Indigenous genocide in Colombia by drug traffickers and the organized resistance against it. It also reports an amazing story about how an Indigenous community previously excluded from internet and phones from price got their own unique celluar network through united community efforts.
What will probably be your favorite story is how one internet network is bringing internet access and school content in their own Indigenous languages to Indigenous areas of Mexico.
The Spanish is indeed high-level since it’s a news broadcast, but the auto-generated subtitles from Youtube are pretty good and you can use the Spanish or English ones, whichever is best for your class.
Why Colombus Day Should NOT Be Celebrated
Have you ever noticed that relatively few countries refer to the commemoration of the meeting of Indigenous American cultures and European cultures in 1492 as Columbus Day? It actually started in countries with large Italian heritage, as Christopher Columbus was Italian by birth.
The earliest recorded large celebration in the United States is 1937 by the Knights of Columbus (makes sense), making it a relatively new holiday. Read this Encyclopedia Brittanica Article to find out more.
So why should it not be celebrated?
Take a look at this video called
¿Descubrimiento o resistencia? and ask your students this question.
Read this article about the recent replacement of the Cristobal Colon statue in Mexico City with an Indigenous woman to learn more.
Why Dia de la Raza is Important in Spanish Class
I’m sure like everyone else you can name the three ships from the 1st of 4 fleets. You probably don’t know the name of the Indigenous tribe that Columbus kidnapped, murdered, enslaved, and used as forced labor to mine for gold in the Bahamas, Haiti, and in the Cibao Valley of the modern day Dominican Republic.
You probably didn’t learn in school that him and his two sons were arrested for their vicious treatment of the Taino people and that many European settlers were were disgruntled with their style of governance on the isle of Hispaniola, to the point were he was barred return.
This of course does not change the monumental impact his voyages or encounter had on history, or deny his remarkable navigational talents. It means that we’ll raise better humans when we present students with a complete, accurate, complex, and more often than not dark history. We’ll also stop omitting the Indigenous perspective in general, which feels inaccurate at best, and dehumanizing at its most dangerous.
Much like Washington’s pretty horrifying signing, support and participation in the anti-fugitive slave act, it doesn’t change his role in the American Revolution. But it does bring an empty hollow to the ring of American values that he claimed to fight for. It makes our systematically racist society easier to unravel and dismantle when we know where it comes from and fully appreciate how long it’s been in place.
Día de la Raza Traditions
However, just like these Dia de la Raza Spanish activities, this article isn’t about Columbus. It’s about how you can use the varied and rich discussions, celebrations, community gatherings of Indigenous leaders, and national holidays that occur to present to your students the crucial and underrepresented perspective of Indigenous peoples in Spanish class, and spark conversations on the current state and future of Indigenous rights, culture and communities.
Quechua Language in Peru Authentic Resources
Here’s more videos and resources of Quechua traditions in Peru – not necessarily focused on Dia de la Raza, but they show the prevalence of the Indigenous Quechua language in the capital city.
These two videos as well as activities and resources to go with them are part of this virtual field trip to Cusco, Peru. Students spend a section of this digital activity exploring various Indigenous groups and Quechua language.
Día de la Raza en Chile
Check out this video to see more celebrations of what Indigenous Peoples Day looks like in Chile:
¿Cuándo es el Dia de la Raza?
Since the holiday commemorates events on October 12th historically, it usually falls on the closest Monday in October to that date. In 2021, Día de la Raza or Indigenous Peoples Day falls on Monday, October 11th. In 2022, it will be on Monday, October 10th.
Spanish Activities for Indigenous Peoples Day
This video is a great clip to show your Spanish classes to start the conversation around Indigenous Peoples day.
Some questions you might ask to follow up could be factual and thought-provoking to review the info and question words like the first few, and then some in Spanish (or all) to spark language —
- How many Indigenous people are there in Latin America?
- Which countries have the largest Indigenous populations?
- Are Indigenous peoples a small or large group? Give examples to justify your answer.
- What does systematic loss of land and territory mean to you? What are some of the implications of this term?
- What images do you see?
- What words do you recognize?
- What cognates can you pick up?
- What are people wearing? What colors? What elements? Where are they?
More Indigenous Peoples Day Activities
If you’re looking for an in-depth unit with Dia de la Raza activities for Spanish class, I’ve created this digital picture talk and social justice unit for two weeks in either your Spanish 2 class or a shorter, more English heavy version for exploratory and early Spanish 1.
Each version contains over 30 authentic links, authentic pictures of various Indigenous groups, discussion prompts, a COVID 19 impact focus, and an independent digital research project. Click the pictures and the links to find out more — I hope it makes it easier for you to use social justice units in your Spanish class.
Indigenous Peoples Day is an opportunity to connect with the whole school and present a richer, more accurate history of who humanity really is — check in with your English, Science, Math, Music, and History colleagues to see what they’re doing for this holiday to take advantage of a great cross-curricular lesson.
Last but not least, if you’re interested in integrating more social justice lessons into your Spanish curriculum, download the free World Language Teacher Toolkit here that includes the roadmap to transition to proficiency. Inside, you’ll find guidelines for curriculum creation with social justice in mind.
My sincere hope is that this post and the resources in it make it frictionless to incorporate Indigenous voices in your Spanish class.
Sincerely rooting for you,