Revitalizing Culture Lesson Plan

Written by Nicole Bihr Menard (Lakota) Lincoln (NE) Public Schools

For easier printing, download the PDF version of this lesson plan.


"We need to keep in mind, too, that the lines of demarcation are never clean cut. Imagine a patchwork quilt in which the scraps of cloth are, unfortunately, not of fast color. After one wash there would be a blurring out of tones, a blending of each two neighboring colors along the seams. That's about the way culture areas are (Southeastern, Eastern Woodlands, Plains, Plateau, Southwestern and North Pacific Coast). The world over, people borrow and adapt ideas when they have the chance." (Ella Deloria. Speaking of Indians, University of Nebraska Press, 1998, page 17).

"Peoplehood is a community of human beings that possesses a distinct language, a particular territory, a specific ceremonial cycle and a sacred history that essentially tells how they came into existence, how they should behave in relation to their environment, when and how they perform ceremonies, and how they are related to each other within the community… The diagram of the Peoplehood Model shows the four factors as they overlap, entwine, interpenetrate and interact." (Tom Holm. "Sovereignty and Peoplehood," Red Ink, v.8.2, Spring 2000, page 43).

This lesson uses Holm's Peoplehood Model and Deloria's patchwork quilt as a representation of culture and the blending of colors as the similarities and differences between cultures. The lesson is designed to focus a student's attention on the similarities between cultures around the world, even the "American" culture. Students will examine sections in A Seat at the Drum and Spiral of Fire that address the many components of culture according to Holm's Peoplehood Model.

The lesson is divided into three parts. The first part will be a discussion of A Seat at the Drum and Spiral of Fire as it relates to Native culture and its place in modern society. The second part of the lesson will be group work according to the Holm's Peoplehood Model in which students will identify how their culture is similar to the cultures represented in A Seat at the Drum and Spiral of Fire. Students will be examining documents and ideas of modern Native authors as well as using the A Seat at the Drum and Spiral of Fire resources. 

The third part of the lesson will be bringing all the "quilt pieces" together to form a cultural quilt that represents how cultures today "borrow and adapt ideas when they have the chance."



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