Celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples with Minecraft

02 Aug 2021

Indigenous Peoples around the world will continue to be critical stewards of knowledge, language, culture, and unique ways of relating to people, animals, and the environment. It is paramount that we continue to share and build awareness for the stories, communities, and political characteristics of these cultures. Sustaining this valuable knowledge for current and future generations to learn from, connect with, and celebrate will help us all create a more equitable and inclusive world.

In honor of the more than 476 million indigenous peoples currently living in 90 countries across the world (less than 5% of the global population, as reported by the UN), today we celebrate International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.  by highlighting Minecraft creators and content centering on indigenous cultures around the world. We hope these immersive learning experiences inspire creators, educators, and students to explore indigenous history, culture, and people.

A small group of Indigenous people stand inside their house.


1) Explore Indigenous History and Culture with Manito Ahbee Aki | Minecraft Education Edition: Students are transported back in time to Manitoba as it existed prior to European contact in North America. They’ll live amongst the Anishinaabe Peoples in order to learn and understand how they thrived on this land together while living in harmony with Mother Earth. As a member of the Anishinaabe Nation, learners experience three different phases of the game that will build their understanding of the Anishinaabe worldview as they gain insights from Knowledge Keepers, building respect for the earth. Students can learn the story of developing this experience from the creators in Canada through this video on our YouTube channel.

2) Indigenous students mix traditional knowledge and modern technology to envision a different world | Minecraft Education Edition: During the 2020 NAIDOC week, more than 1,000 Indigenous students in years 3–8 from 31 schools around Australia took part in the first national NAIDOC Minecraft Education Challenge, bringing together the world’s oldest living cultures with the latest in 21st-century technology. National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week is Australia’s largest celebration of the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Follow their story of cultural connections and inclusiveness in their community.

Indigenous boats moored on a beach

3) Explore Māori Culture with Minecraft | Minecraft Education Edition: In September 2019, we shared this moving story of Indigenous culture, learning, community and inclusion from New Zealand.  Whetu Paitai, a game designer who founded Minecraft Marketplace Partner Piki Studios, had his children in mind when he decided to create an interactive educational experience within Minecraft. His mission to pass down his knowledge and experiences with Māori culture led him to create Ngā Motu – a uniquely Māori Minecraft world!

This immersive, inclusive project brings to life the experiences of Indigenous cultures, while building social-emotional skills throughout the community as students work together to explore their country’s national language and history. Students explore the fictional island and its environment, meeting whānau (family) from the local hapū (tribe), who help explain the layout and use of the area while teaching the students te reo vocabulary and pronunciation. Students engage with the history of their land, the Indigenous people of New Zealand, and their cultural values.

4) Ngā Motu Digital Technology: how ngā motu learning cards are making te reo more accessible to kiwi kids: Recognizing the need to align Ngā Motu with the curriculum and make it more accessible after its initial launch, Microsoft reached out to CORE Education Tātai Aho Rau. This organization develops rauemi (resources) to support educators and learners with a strong equity-first mindset.

Working alongside Microsoft’s education team, Piki Studios, and specialist designers, CORE Education developed a set of lesson plans using Ngā Motu that fit in with New Zealand’s digital technology curriculum for levels 3 and 4 for students in year 6-8, built in both te reo and English mediums. This approach meant that there was a structure available for classrooms who needed it, while still allowing for spontaneous discovery—a feature of Ngā Motu since its launch. Learn about a special set of learning cards they’ve created and how they're being utilized as teaching tools in schools today. 

5) Meet a Minecrafter: OMGTech!: Beauty can be found all over the world in a myriad of cultures, and New Zealand is no exception. The indigenous Māori people of New Zealand have developed their culture since the 1300’s, rich with customs, cultural practices, and the language of Te Reo Māori.

OMGTech! is a charity that creates educational workshops on digital technologies. Recently, they translated their “Hour of Code” Minecraft tutorial into Teo Reo Māori. This resulted in OMGTech! being able to create a hands-on learning experience for the children to learn in their own native language!

6) Students Around the World Shared Indigenous Stories in the November 2020 Global Build Challenge:

To correspond with Native American Heritage Month in the United States, we hosted a Build Challenge centered on Indigenous Stories. We invited students around the world to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of the First Peoples in their regions by researching their stories and building them in Minecraft: Education Edition. The submissions were inclusive and inspiring, with unique cultural traditions celebrated in so many different ways!!

A small group of Indigenous people stand around a campfire amidst several tipis


Explore these worlds from Minecraft: Education Edition with your learners to build knowledge, community, and awareness for the experiences of Indigenous Peoples everywhere.

  • Indigenous Stories: Research a story told by the native people of your region and illustrate this story using Minecraft. Share and discuss your projects.
  • Indigenous Rights in Canada: Explore Indigenous treaty rights from pre to post contact. Study relationships between government and indigenous communities.
  • Traditional Indigenous Homes: You are part of an indigenous clan living in your native land prior to the 1700s. Your clan is tasked with building a traditional house!
Printable world map for Manito Ahbee Aki

Printable map for Manito Ahbee Aki.

If you’re new to Minecraft: Education Edition, we welcome you to begin your journey here, and to follow us at @PlayCraftLearn on Twitter and Facebook. Minecraft Education Edition is also available for after-school programs, homeschool organizations, nonprofits and more – take game-based learning beyond the classroom!