5th graders learn about their own Native American culture

Ironically, the 5th graders are assigned a unit about People of the Plains as a part of their curriculum.  This always leaves me scratching my head because my class, Native American Studies, is pretty much all about the People of the Plains.  From the time the kids begin in first grade and go on up to eighth grade, they will have learned many concepts about our beautiful Lakota (Sioux) culture.

Native American children learning about their culture.
The kids were so interested in their Lakota (Sioux) culture.

To begin, I asked the students to make a KWL chart.  This is a chart that lists what you know (K), what you want to know (W) and lastly, what you learned (L).  Thanks to this process, I was able to tailor the lessons so I didn’t teach something they already knew about. I was able to directly show and discuss actual artifacts from our classroom and the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center on campus.

Some questions they had were about tools, weapons, clothes, food, games, tasks, horses, dogs, child rearing, medicine men, moons and medicines.  We learned from the internet, class discussions and by viewing and touching many items at the museum.  Visiting the museum was their favorite activity.  They touched bones that were used for painting, cutting, sewing, scraping and working.  They also learned how paint was made, how items were decorated with porcupine quills, eagle feathers and buffalo parts that were used for practical uses. For example, the buffalo bladder was used as a water carrier, the skin became blankets and the tail was used as a fly swatter.

After the unit was finished, I reflected on how I am really thankful to have this unit.  It gives the kids a chance to ask questions about what they want to know and it gives me an opportunity to teach and talk about some different, awesome avenues of our Lakota culture.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

3 thoughts on “5th graders learn about their own Native American culture”

  1. It sounds like a very special learning experience and I’m grateful they have such a caring, dedicated teacher!

  2. You all are so blessed to be able to learn and grow not only as a school but a community as well. I am an east coast mix of native Indian, and several other blends. Our heritage is so mixed, my Indian heritage was essentially lost except for passed down knowledge. Nothing yet has been able to link me to a tribe because they became virtually extinct in my area. I trully appreciate the dedication and love you share for your precious culture.

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