Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Contemporary Ojibwe Culture Lesson Plan

Ashleigh Thompson, Irene Churchill, and Laura Glover

Contemporary Ojibwe Culture Lesson Plan
Preschool through Kindergarten
Our Goal

    Our lesson plan focuses on the contemporary Ojibwe people, also known as the Chippewa or Anishinaabeg. The goal of our lesson plan is to educate kindergarten students on the present-day Ojibwe people living in Minnesota as well as surrounding regions, and to combat stereotypes such as that Native Americans are only one whole group with no differences and that they are a people of the past. This lesson plan will also aim to challenge stereotypes perpetuated by the media and popular culture. By teaching students the living Indigenous language of the Ojibwe, showing and teaching them about regalia and dance, as well as having a beading activity, students will realize that Native Americans, specifically the Ojibwe people, have a rich culture that still flourishes today.

Background Information

    Background on Native Peoples:
        One common mistake people make is to lump together all Native people, ignoring individual tribal identities that have their own unique language, customs, traditions, beliefs, and histories. There may be similarities or shared beliefs among tribes but there is much more to Native Americans than the pan-Indian label they are often assigned. In reality, there are more than 500 federally recognized tribes, with even more unrecognized tribal groups. As of the 2010 census, American Indians and Alaska Natives accounted for 1.7% of the United States population which is up from the previous census and is estimated to continue to increase in the future. The Ojibwe people (also known as Chippewa and Anishinaabeg) are the fourth largest American Indian group in the United States and second largest First Nations group in Canada. Ojibwe reservations are in the Northern United States in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana.

    Background on Powwows:
        Although tribes are unique, many come together for intertribal events such as powwows. In its most general sense, a powwow is a gathering of Native peoples that celebrates their Indigenous cultures. Typically at powwows, dancing, singing, and socializing occur. Native dancers wear regalia that are specific to their type of dance. There are several types of dances for men and women. Some examples include men’s grass dance, fancy dance, and traditional or women’s fancy dance, jingle dance, or fancy shawl. Each dance has corresponding regalia and type of music. Drumming is done by drum groups who can consist of several people and who also sing the melodies of the songs. Songs may have lyrics in an Indigenous language, in English, or may consist of vocables. Sometimes dancers are judged and there are cash prizes. If dancers or drum groups are good enough, the money they win from traveling to several powwows might make up a significant amount of their income.

Background on the State of Indigenous Languages:
                        Despite American Indian history that includes cases of warfare, genocide, relocation, and assimilation sanctioned by the U.S. federal and state government, many tribes have been able to retain much of their tribal culture, including language. Sadly, some communities’ languages have died out but there are revitalization efforts in effect across the United States. In some communities, some children still learn their language at home and in others only the elders may be fluent. Depending on a variety of factors, the state of the Indigenous language differs from tribe to tribe. In the Ojibwe communities, efforts are being made in order to teach children at a young age, have language programs implemented at schools and summer programs, teach adults, or help elders relearn. Because language contains many cultural elements, are used in ceremony, song, and prayer, and represent sovereignty of individual tribal nations, knowing your Indigenous language is vital to strengthening tribal communities.

    Background on the Mishomis Book/Oral History/Tradition:
        Oral history is important due to the fact there was no written Ojibwe language until after the time of contact with Europeans. In order to have the history of the Ojibwe people passed down, it had to be spoken and memorized. This is how all members of the tribe learned. Children would learn important lessons through stories from their elders. Some of the things they learned were important, such as where they came from. Other stories were to explain why things were the way they were (like why the bear has a short tail). Not only does each story teach children about why things are the way they are, or how things are done; they most often teach the right and wrong way of behaving.
               Missionaries and travelers in the 19th century were among the first to write down these legends. Storytellers were considered honored guests. Stories and traditions provided the guidelines for their entire tribe. This was their heritage; their memory. So important were these stories that story tellers were selected at a very early age to remember each and every story and to eventually relate each story many times over to the children and adults. This process is how the children learned their history and the pride that went along with knowing their traditions. Not only were these stories for teaching, they also provided a source of entertainment. More often than not, the stories would be told in the winter, when people gathered together. Oral history is a tradition that has been around since the beginning of Ojibwe history and is still alive today.

    Background on beading:
        Beading is a Native American tradition that has been around for a very long time. Beads usually consisted of shell, pottery, or glass. Most beads today consist of plastic or glass. It has been a way for Native Americans to creatively express themselves. Native Americans use beading to decorate their clothing, such as vests or shoes, and regalia pieces they wear to dance in powwows. Beads and beading can also be used to create jewelry such as medallions, earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces, and so on. Today, the art of beading has reached varying levels. For example, things such as a pair of Converse shoes can be fully beaded. Beading of the Ojibwe people mainly include floral designs. However, today beading designs can range from various things, such as people, scenery, animals, and logos. Included within this lesson plan are a few example pictures of contemporary Native American beading, as well as traditional beading.

State-mandated Learning Objectives
    Grade: K
    Strand: 3. Geography
    Sub-strand: 2. Places and Regions
    Standard: 3. Places have physical characteristics ( such as climate, topography
and vegetation) and human characteristics (such as culture, population, political and economic systems).
    Benchmark: Identify the physical and human characteristics of places, including real and imagined places. For example: Physical characteristics—landforms (Rocky Mountains, Mount Everest), ecosystems (forest), bodies of water (Hudson Bay, Indian Ocean, Amazon River), soil, vegetation, weather and climate. Human characteristics—structures (Great Wall of China, Eiffel Tower), bridges (Golden Gate Bridge), canals (Erie Canal), cities, political boundaries, population distribution, settlement patterns, language, ethnicity, nationality, religious beliefs.

Detailed List of Supplies
List of Supplies for Mishomis Book/Oral History/Tradition:
    List of Supplies for Ojibwemowin (Ojibwe language)
    • Chalk board/white board to write words

List of Supplies for Powwow Presentation
    • Regalia
    • Video Clips (YouTube)
    List of Supplies for beading activity
    • Pony plastic beads (no specific color needed; a variety of colors is best to allow the children to be more creative), a good handful per child
    • Super Safe Plastic Lacing Needles, 1 per child
    • Yarn or thick-like string pieces, 1 or 2 per child
    • Bowls or containers of some sort to hold the beads for each child as they make their flowers, 1 per child
    • Pictures or actual pieces of beadwork to show children. (A few pictures are provided but there are a ton more online and one can simply use a search engine such as Google to find more.)

2-4 Individual Activities
Directions for Mishomis Book/Oral History/Tradition:
1.       Children will be asked to sit in a circle to listen to the story.
2.       A story will be read to students from Mishomis Book. (Chapter 5)
3.       If there is time, another story or two may be read since the first story is
very short.

    Directions for Ojibwemowin activity:
    ·         1.  Teach them how to say each phrase. Say it aloud, and then have them say it with you. Write them on the board.  For two of the three phases in this Kindergarten lesson forward the YouTube video to 0:45 for “boozhoo” (hello) and to 1:15 for “indizhinaakaaz” (my name is): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8PlKr1NYpg This YouTube video has audio of “giga-waabamin” (see you later) at the end, 2:04. It will help with pronunciation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8ZAYpZKRPE&feature=related The three words/phrases:
  • Boozhoo: Hello.
Pronunciation: boo-zhoo
  • _____ (insert name) indizhinaakaaz: My name is ______.
Pronunciation: in-dizh-e-na-kaaz
  • Giga waabamin: See you later.
Pronunciation: gee-ga-wah-ba-min
·                 2. After the children have learned the phrases, act out a short skit. Say, “Boozhoo! ____ indizhinaakaaz.” Have them say their name: “______ indizhinaakaaz.” Then say, “Giga waabamin!” and have them repeat it afterwards, as you wave and walk away.
·                 3. Call on children afterwards and if they can remember how to say at least one phrase, give them a prize. A culturally appropriate treat would be something like maple candy. Ojibwe tap maple trees, collect the syrup, and use it or sell it.

    Directions for Powwow Activity: ·         Step 1: Show the students the regalia, explain that it is only worn on special occasions such as at a powwow. The individual presenting can give whatever information they want. They could provide an age appropriate history on their style of dance, who taught them to dance, who made their regalia, etc.
·         Step 2: Provide a short background on what the presenter will sing. Will they sing in English or their Native language? Where did they learn the song? Did they make it themselves? Afterwards, perform one a couple of songs for the children.
·         Step 3: Ask if the children have any questions. Any false impressions or stereotypes could be combated this way.

Directions for beading activity:
Before day of class, cut pieces of string about a foot long for children so they have maybe two or three pieces each. Then tie knots at one end (big enough so beads will not pass over) and attach needle. The needles may not be required, depending on whether you have yarn. Yarn will make it harder to pass beads through, requiring the needles.
In class, tell the children that they will be learning about contemporary Native American culture. They will be beading and making flowers. Beading is a Native American art. Native Americans create all kinds of things, from earrings, necklaces, and bracelets to beading moccasins (shoes), clothing (vests), and even things like key-chains. If beadwork examples are available, show these to the children. Let them know that beading is a tradition that Native Americans having been doing for a very long time and are still practicing to this day.
Then tell children to get in line to fill their bowls with beads (or go around and pass them out) giving them pieces of string (with or without needle, depending on string being used).
Once they have their materials and are seated, tell them, while showing them at the same time, to put 7 beads through their needle down to the knot, counting with them as they go. Once they have 7, tell them to push the needle through the closest bead at the bottom, by the knot, trying to get the string of beads as close to the knot as they can. If they cannot, it is not a big deal. It should create a circle. After creating a circle, put another bead through your needle and let it slide down. Then take your needle and pull the single bead across the circle of beads so the single bead rests in the middle of the circle. It helps to count from where your string sticks out to the fourth bead, pushing your needle through this fourth bead. After pulling through, it should resemble a simple flower. Repeat steps to create more flowers.
If the children are having a hard time grasping how to do this, tell them that they can simply put beads on the string. They can make it into a string of beads that can act as a bracelet or necklace, or whatever they wish it to be.

    Beading activity:
    • Pre-beaded or partially beaded flowers can be made for those who are having a hard time getting started.
Supplementary Material
    For story time:
    • This is a link to a page to one of the major tribal bands located in Minnesota called the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. This page describes a songbook a teacher can order online. This songbook includes songs in Ojibwe set to varying types of music such as country. It is great for children K-12.
For Ojibwe language:
    Books that are helpful for learning the Ojibwe language:
    1. Clark, Jessie, Rick Gresczyk 1998. Ambe, Ojibwemodaa Endaayang!
Come On, Let's Talk Ojibwe at Home! Eagle Works.
2. Nichols, John, Earl Nyholm 1995. A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota
Ojibwe. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
For powwow:

    For beadwork:
    • Beading: There are pictures included at the end of this lesson plan to show example of other beadwork.
    • This article does a great job describing beadwork and quillwork of Native Americans within the Plains and Woodland region, including Minnesota. It is actually a more advanced lesson plan teachers can use, but is still helpful in acquiring a deeper understanding of this activity.
          • “Instructional Resources: Art from the American Indians of the Plains and
Woodlands Region” by Ann W. Braaten and Susan Pierson Ellingson
Art Education, Vol. 45, No. 6 (Nov., 1992), pp. 25-33
Published by: National Art Education Association

Language evaluation: the last step (3) of the activity is useful for evaluating the students. Students are asked to remember at least one phrase and they receive a prize if they are able.

Powwow evaluation: Ask students simple questions about the activity such as “What happens at a powwow?” “What does a dancer wear to a powwow?” “What is used to create music at a powwow?” If students give false answers, correct them. At the end, the instructor should have an idea to what extent did the children learn.

Mishomis Book story evaluation: To evaluate the children to see if they understood the story, would be a discussion of the story and what they found to be interesting or what caught their interest. Questions like, “Who was the main character?” or “What happened in the story?” would work. The teacher can also ask them if they have any questions about what happened in the story.

    Beading activity: In order to evaluate the children in whether they grasped any understanding of contemporary Native American peoples and culture, discussion questions seem appropriate. For example, the teacher can ask the children broad questions such as, “What did we learn today?” or more specific questions such as “What Native American group did we learn about today?” Questions can vary for this activity, yet it is important to emphasize to the children that there are more than one group/type of Native American. Also, it is important to stress that the beading activity is one of many creative ways Native Americans use for artistic expression. Furthermore, the teacher should ask the children if they have any questions regarding this topic.

Pictures for Beading activity:

        This is a picture of what the children would make following the directions in the beading activity, only with much smaller beads.
This is a picture of more contemporary beadwork.
This picture is an example of beaded jewelry, in this case, more traditional-styled earrings.
This is a picture of more traditional beadwork.

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