Revitalizing Culture Lesson Plan
  1. Small group work:  Divide students into four groups. Each group will research an element of Holm's Peoplehood Model (Language, Territory/Land, Ceremonial Practice/Cycles, Sacred History) according to their own group's cultures. Remember, the focus of the cultural quilt is to find the similarities between Native culture and the student's own cultures. Hopefully, there will be many different cultures represented in each small group, but if not, the research component will allow students to research "a culture" and participate in the making of the culture quilt. Research papers will be one to two pages in length. A diagram of the Peoplehood Model is available for download here.

Group 1 Language
            This group will investigate their own ancestral languages. Students will look at the similarities between Native languages and their own languages. Students could look at the way in which languages are recorded historically, linguistic traces or how language is connected to place and religion. Some other ways students can show how their language is similar to Native languages is through literature, letters, oral stories, jokes, historical accounts and science (astronomy, etc.). Each student will write a one to two page research paper on their own ancestral language (students will need access to a computer and printer).

Group 2 Sacred History
            This group will investigate sacred history as it relates to Native people. Then, students will research their own sacred history as it pertains to their culture and find similarities and differences between the two. If students can't think of their history in terms of "sacred," then they need to research their own cultural history. This might be how their ancestors came to be "Americans." Each student will record their historical story in a one to two page research paper (students will need access to a computer and printer).

Group 3 Ceremonial Practice/Cycles
            This group will investigate the ceremonial practices/cycles they witnessed in Indian Country Diaries and the historical significance of these ceremonies. Next, students will research their own ceremonial practices and find the similarities to Native ceremonial cycles. Students can record appropriate ceremonies that are relevant to their lives and incorporate them into the cultural quilt. For instance, the Lakota have a sacred ceremony during the summer solstice called the Sun Dance. The Cherokee and many other tribes have Green Corn ceremonies. Each student will record appropriate ceremonies relevant to their lives in a one to two page research paper (students will need access to a computer and printer).

Group 4  Territory/Land
            This group will investigate the territory/land that is discussed in Indian Country Diaries. Where is the land in A Seat at the Drum and where is the land in Spiral of Fire? Why is it so important to Native peoples? Be sure to explain how all four components of Holm's Peoplehood Matrix are connected to one another. Discuss how Native people have passed down origin stories for generations, and how each story includes where they came from. For example, the origin story of the Navajo tribe states that they came into existence through a series of different colored under-worlds beneath our present day world. They emerged at Xajinai, in the La Plata Mountains in Southwest Colorado. The Navajo people are surrounded by four sacred mountains in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

Once each student has acquired this information, they will investigate the territory/land that is a part of their cultural background. Each student will research his or her territory/land and record why it is important to them in a one to two page research paper (students will need access to a computer and printer). The record will be incorporated into the cultural quilt.

  1. Once students have had ample time to research their topic areas and the similarities between their cultures and the Native people represented in the PBS series, each small group will put together 1/4th of the quilt using all the research papers from each student.
    1. Glue research papers onto construction paper.
    2. Each group should arrange research paper together to form 1/4th of the “quilt”

Display each section from the small group work together on a wall.  There should be four sections of research representing Holm’s Peoplehood Model (Language, Territory/Land, Ceremonial Practice/Cycles, Sacred History). Each student should present their research paper  to the class in their small groups, making sure to show the similarities of their cultural experience to those of Native people in Indian Country Diaries.

Assessment Recommendations

Students will be assessed on the following:

  1. The final document that they individually research. This will be assessed using the Six Traits Writing Rubric. Information about the rubric can be found at this external link.
  2. Group presentation to the class. See sample grading rubric.
  3. Class participation and appropriate behavior towards other cultures.

Recommended Resources

  • The Indian Country Diaries DVD chapters and web pages listed above.
  • Basso, Keith H.  Wisdom Sits in Places, University of New Mexico Press, 1996.
  • Deloria, Ella.  Speaking of Indians, University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
  • Holm, Tom. "Sovereignty and Peoplehood," Red Ink, v.8.2, Spring 2000.

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