Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Native American Indian Plans...

I mentioned earlier that I am striking out on my own without a curriculum in history.  I will be reading biographies, living picture and chapter books, and doing hands-on projects with the kids to bring history to life.  This is the way I taught history to my oldest, and he is a real history buff.  For some reason I strayed, but I am back.  We are moving chronologically through history and are ready to study the New World of America.  Since the Native Americans were here first and are woven throughout our history, I decided to start with a mini-unit study on them. We will be concentrating on the Indians that explorers and settlers would have met along the coasts and near the first 13 colonies. When we get to the pioneer times (next year), we will do another mini-unit study on the Indians out west.

We are very blessed to live near the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (the Cherokee who hid during the government removal of Indians in the 1830's and continue to live on their homeland to this day).  The Western Band of Cherokee who live in Oklahoma are considered a separate nation by the government. All the pictures throughout this post are from our visit to the reservation and their reenactment village of how the Cherokee lived at the end of the 1700's, shortly before the government gathered the Cherokee and marched them west to Oklahoma. A third of the Cherokee died on the way, now called the Trail of Tears. In the village, the people were demonstrating the crafts that they have practiced for 14,000 years.

Kids standing in a canoe

Over the next few weeks, we will be reading books on the Cherokee, Iroquois Nation (where my heritage is from), Powhatan (the Indians around Jamestown), Creeks, and the Lumbee/Croatoan Indians (who would have been the Indians around the lost colony of Roanoke).  All of these Indians lived near where settlers lived and were the first to to be affected by or affect the colonists.

We have already started reading books about Pocahontas and are busy separating out  more likely fact from fiction. The Disney movie is so not the truth!! Pocahontas was a Powhatan Indian.

We are going to be doing an in-depth study of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee which will include the following:

  • A field trip to the Cherokee reservation (already done yesterday).

  • Making a Cherokee 3-D village.

  • Making a dugout canoe for Playmobile to ride in.

  • Making a pot out of a ball of clay, much like we saw a woman potter doing at the Cherokee reservation.

  • Doing some bead work (probably a necklace).

  • Learn how to use a mini blow gun.

The children will also be entering The Festival Knowledge contest at our local Nature Center in February.  My oldest entered this Festival several times in his early teens and won top honors once.  The projects can be individual or group.  Our kids will be doing a group project.  They will be building a 3-D village complete with a dugout canoe, proper shelters, and a woodland setting.  The kids will also make a presentation board of all they have learned (like a science fair board).  They will have the opportunity to explain their project to the judges.  I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for them.  They will be learning public speaking, research, presentation skills, 3-D building and working together.

Here is a list of some of the books we will be using.

  • Pocahontas By, Ingri and Edgar Parin d' Aulaire

  • The Cherokee a New True Book By, Emilie U. Lepthien

  • American Indian Games and Crafts By, Charles L. Blood

  • If You Lived With The Cherokee By, Peter and Connie Roop

  • The Iroquois By, Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve

  • A life in a Longhouse Village By, Bobbie Kalman

  • Powhatan Indians By, Suzanne Williams

  • More Than Moccasins: A Kid's Activity Guide ByLaurie Carlson

  • Morning Girl By, Michael Dorris

We will also be doing several other projects that will represent other tribes besides the Cherokee.  For instance, when we study the Iroquois, we will make a corn husk doll.  I am still waiting for the More Than Moccasins book to come in so that I can finish picking out our projects.




  1. This looks wonderful! We were in Gatlinburg, TN a few months ago, and I was hoping to get to the Cherokee exhibits, but we ran out of time.

  2. I'm so glad you posted this. We're just working on a unit on Indians, as we have just finished up Colonial America. I just got the More than Mocassins book. It has too many ideas. I have to figure out which ones to actually do. We also did a simple project from Dover publications. They have some preprinted little Tipis that you just tape together and you have them. We have a whole Indian village sitting on our counter right now. I like your idea of making a dugout the size of playmobil. That is brilliant. Think I'll work on that idea a bit.

    Thanks for some great ideas.

  3. Sounds like a lot of fun! We enjoyed a visit to Jamestown if that is a part of your plans for your study. Love the group project!!! I wish we had something like that around here.


  4. We are studying the Cherokees and the Trail of Tears right now! So far we have made corn husk dolls and played the bean basket game. The Crafter went to Oconaluftee with her grandparents in May and really enjoyed it.

  5. Sounds like some great plans. We've been working on Plains Indians and will move to Northeastern next. I think I may wait to do Southeast adn Northwest when we move across the country in our studies. Next will be explorers also. I found this website which has some American Indian and other links. We're doing the Plains Indians lapbook that we found there: