The Idea of Place for Native Peoples

The Idea of Place for Native Peoples
Author: Catharine Niuzzo Honaman
Editor: Stephanie Nardei
4 classes
2 hours to read supporting materials and lesson plan
Handout 1: The Art of Shan Goshorn
Hand out 2: “The Land,” Our Voices, Our Land Words by the Indian
Peoples of the Southwest
Handout 3: “Into the Sun,” Ancestral Voice : Conversations with N.
Scott Momaday by Charles L. Woodard
Handout 4: “A Sense of Place,” Native Science: Natural Laws of
Interdependence by Gregory Cajete
Students will view/read four selections on information about Native American view
of how people are connected to their land. The students will:
Take notes
Identify the main ideas in each piece
Generate clarifying questions for the new ideas they are encountering
Then they will create a Venn diagram showing similar ideas from three of the four selections as a
graphic organizer summarizing important ideas of the texts.
Purpose – This is the explore lesson. Students will read and take notes on new ideas on how
Native Americans see their relationship to their lands.
Students will be able to:
1. Identify the main ideas in a text
2. Make comparisons between texts to find similar ideas and points of view
3. Generate clarifying questions to understand complex and/or new ideas in the texts
4. Write a series of coherent and connected sentences summarizing similar ideas in a
variety of texts by creating a Venn diagram
National Language Arts Education Standard:
Standard #1
Students read a wide range of print and nonprint text to build an understanding of texts,
of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world, to acquire new information,
to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace, and for personal fulfillment.
Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
Standard #2
Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an
understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human
Arizona State Standards
Strand 1: Concept 6: Comprehension Strategies
PO 2. Generate clarifying questions in order to comprehend text.
PO 3. Use graphic organizers in order to clarify the meaning of the text.
PO 4. Connect information and events in text to experience and to related text and
Strand 3: Concept 1: Expository Text
PO 4. Compare readings on the same topic, by examining how authors reach the same
or different conclusions based upon differences in evidence, reasoning,
assumptions, purposes, beliefs, or biases.
Teacher Background
Know how to make a Venn diagram:
Venn Diagrams on Wikipedia
Related and Resource Websites
Slide Show of Our Voices, Our Land (Northland)
Stephen Trimble on Our Voices, Our Land
National Museum of the American Indian
The Art of Shan Goshorn
Art Links: Native American
Royce Myers Art Ltd Presents Shan Goshorn
Day 1
1. The students will look at several exhibits of Native American art and read several texts
containing essential insights of Native Peoples (of any area in the world actually) look at
their connection to the land.
2. Begin the class by presenting the exhibition of Shan Goshorn’s work on the website:
Shan Goshorn’s work is both very visually accessible (as it is highly representative) and also
strongly infused with deeply held Native beliefs about inexorable connection between human
beings and the land. The caption for the first image contains very important information for
students and they should be given a copy of the following paragraph:
"This body of work, Earth Renewal Series, illustrates the traditional yet ongoing belief of Indian people that we
still honor our roles as caregivers to our mother, the earth. The main focus of many of our ceremonies and
dances is renewal, of the earth and therefore ourselves. The images are blurred and indistinct just as our
responsibilities as earth's children and caretakers are constantly changing. Our commitment to this
responsibility is manifested in the joyous but sometimes exhausting physical, mental and spiritual sacrifice; her
gift in return is the grounding force that is reflected in our daily lives and gives us the warrior strength to
continue our modern battles."
3. After viewing the entire exhibit of Shan Goshorn’s work, they should take detailed notes
from the above paragraph about how Native Peoples see themselves in relation to their
land. Having seen multiple images of people visibly a part of the landscape, sometimes
totally indistinct from it, the students will easily understand ideas in the paragraph on how
Native Peoples are both the children of and caretakers of the land. It is a relationship,
described in terms of family, not in terms of ownership. After taking notes, they will
review ideas together so to begin this lesson looking for target themes.
4. The next presentation is the PDF from the book entitled Our Voices, Our Land, (words by
the Indian Peoples of the Southwest). See Handout#2. Students take notes on this
presentation showing a continuation of the themes presented by Shan Goshorn such as:
“The land, the hills, and the mountain has a life in it. The ground which we stand
on has a life in it.”
“The old people told us to respect the land, they tell you to take care of it, take
care of it and in turn it will take care of you.”
“The land means a lot to us. It means home. … I belong to this place.”
Hopefully students will not only see the connection between Our Voices, Our Land and Shan
Goshorn’s work but with their own feelings about their special place, the one about which they
made a personal map. This line especially should resonate with them: “The land means a lot to
us. It means home. … I belong to this place.” After students take notes hold one more brief
class discussion looking for questions and making sure students have a good feel for the
viewpoint of Native Peoples.
5. The next two handouts (#3 and #4) are longer texts with exploration of more complex
nuances of ideas encountered in the first two presentations. Students need to read both
handouts, taking detailed notes to be used in the creation of the Venn diagram.
6. After students have taken notes they need to use information gathered from all four
sources to create a Venn diagram. Most should know what a Venn diagram is but it is
always good to give an example. Many people are familiar with the three circles
intersecting as used in math lessons.
7. There are four readings in this lesson. Some students may even wish to do a Venn
diagram with all four readings. There is a lot of flexibility in this lesson. Give students an
appropriate amount of class time to read, take notes and use the Venn diagram as an
organizational tool to visually show how the same central thoughts appear in all four
readings. Some students may have to finish up for homework so the final day of this
lesson may be devoted to creation of a Venn diagram of ideas on all four selections. At
the end of this class students should hand in their individual diagrams for assessment or
you may wish to do a quick check of them before the class discussion begins.
The ideas encountered in this lesson are those of Native Peoples of the Americas. However,
they are those of all Native Peoples. If you go back into the culture of any ethnic group of people
you will hear the same ideas, though expressed in different words sometimes. In the music of all
ethnic groups who came to the Americas there is a longing for “home” that is back across the
waters. Many settlements and cities in the United States are named “new” something in an
attempt to recreate the place where people came from. When we move from the land of our
origin we sometimes numb ourselves to the loss of that connection with the land. For Native
Peoples of the Americas that connection is not just a memory, a nostalgic longing, or a political
choice, it is a current state of being.
Embedded Assessment
Class participation for the first and last days’ activities is one assessment of student learning.
The written work done for the Venn diagram is another way to gauge student level involvement
and depth of understanding gained from the activities.
If the Venn diagram is not completed before the last day of class it needs to be finished up for
homework so students can fully participate in the last day’s activity.