Our new topic unit is Native Americans. I am approaching it from a natural resources perspective. I am teaching the kids by identifying the landscape of a particular region one can also identify the natural resources of that region. The United States is broken into 6-8 regions while referring to Native American’s. These regions are the North, Pacific Northwest Coast, California, Great Basin, Plateau, Plains, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast.
I have taken time with each group to sit in circle and tell stories….while explaining that along with living on this continent a Long Long Long time before any other settlers’, this may be the only thing that all Native Americans have in common. I am trying to debunk the myth that all native people wore head dresses, lived in tepees and performed pow-wow’s. You too may take time this month to ensure that your student student has an accurate understanding of just how diverse this group of people are.
The natural resource part of our study is where things get exciting. PK and YK are sorting animals and plants into their accurate habitats, matching appropriate shelter made from wood to a forest region, clay to a desert or bison hide tepees to a plains region. They are noticing tools and trade items that would also be made from local materials such as totem poles from large trees of the PNW or clay pots from the red sandstone in the desert or grass baskets and root diggers that would be necessary for gather food on the plateau or rice field.
MK and OK are also taking notice of this regional resource based lifestyle, but moving into the present day resources that natives still use and manage. MK will learn about Native Americans and reservations and our government’s agreements regarding first rights to resources. They will dive a bit into shoreline and fishery management and how tribes along the waterways still have subsistence fishing or whaling. They will learn where tribal rights govern the use of coal and wind energy throughout the west and protect open space in many states.
My general objective is to connect the land with the people and how although shopping for all materials today is available, cultural practices still occur within tribal life today, including pow-wow’s!