Literature Connections for
Investigating Artifacts

Teacher's Guides > Investigating Artifacts

 

Native American Myths, Legends, Stories

World Culture

Archaeology and Exploring Your Roots

 

The annotations include quite a few books of Native American myths. Many of these myths focus on explaining natural phenomena, as do the myths created by students in Sessions 3 and 4. Others provide a window into the culture of specific tribes or peoples. Providing students with a sense of these differences is an important step towards reducing the stereotypical misrepresentation of a uniform Native American culture. There are several books that present other aspects of Native American cultural issues. They range from a description of the structure and uses of tipis, a collection of poems and songs by Native Americans celebrating the relationship between earth and all creatures, to an account of the uprooting of Native American life told by a young Navajo girl. These are important in that they provide rich detail of past and current Native American peoples, their values and their struggles.

There are also several books with myths from other world cultures, including African, Greek, and Jewish folktales, legends, and stories. These can be used to show how all cultures leave a trail of stories from which we can learn.

In Sessions 1 and 2, students make their own masks and discuss their role in ritual and celebration. There are a couple of books which address celebration and ritual in general and one which focuses on the security and continuity provided by a tradition of a quilt that is passed down through several generations. A biography of Diego Rivera sheds light on the relationship between art and society, which becomes apparent to students as they learn what masks can tell us about the people who made them.

There are several books that relate to Sessions 5 and 6, where students excavate pretend middens. These books involve archaeology and archaeological techniques.

One of the unit’s Going Further activities involves students gathering oral histories of their families. Several books have to do with exploring one’s own roots, from tracing family records to historical research.

Of course, many teachers have their own favorite books on Native American life, and there is at least some inclusion of information about local or regional tribes in many elementary school curricula. Combining this unit with a focus on learning more about the indigenous peoples of your region is an excellent way to extend learning and emphasize cultural diversity.

Especially noteworthy are two books by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac. They combine clearly written nature-based and science activities for children with beautiful, sensitively told, and stirring stories that are identified as to tribal origin. Published by Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado, we highly recommend, as resources of the highest quality, Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children and Keepers of the Animals: Native American Stories and Wildlife Activities for Children.

The lists have been broken in to three categories, accessible via the links below:

Native American Myths, Legends, Stories

World Culture

Archaeology and Exploring Your Roots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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