Students watch a video about the Native Peoples’ beliefs about their relationship with nature. They then observe two photographs of modern-day Native People in traditional dress to reach conclusions about ongoing beliefs about their relationship with the physical environment.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Oregon | Unit 3: Native Peoples." In this unit, students explore the cultures of Oregon’s Native Peoples population, as well as the interactions of Native groups with others who have come to Oregon.
4.1: Identify and describe historic Native American Indian groups that lived in Oregon prior to contact with Europeans and at the time of early European exploration, including ways these groups adapted to and interacted with the physical environment.
NCSS 1. Culture D: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.
- Video: Indian Pride: Myths and Real Truths | Part 2
- Photograph: Native American/Siletz Tribe | Native American Civilizations | U.S. History
- Photograph: Powwow Competition in Pendleton Oregon | Native American Civilizations | U.S. History
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show media to the class
Explain that different cultures have different beliefs about the Earth and their relationships to the environment. For example, Native Peoples consider the world around them as a part of their community. They watch the cycle of nature and believe that their actions against and for the benefit of nature affect the world around them. They participate in rituals to create and strengthen emotional, cognitive, and spiritual connections to the lands and resources around them. Tell students they will watch a video that will further explain this spiritual connection to nature.
Play the video, Indian Pride: Myths and Real Truths | Part 2 [up until 4:55].
Ask students: what are some myths perpetuated about Native Peoples culture that are mentioned in the video? Why are these myths wrong?
Show students the two photographs of Native Peoples in Oregon: Native American/Siletz Tribe | Native American Civilizations | U.S. History and Powwow Competition in Pendleton Oregon | Native American Civilizations | U.S. History.
Point out that both men are wearing elaborate feathered headdresses. Explain that headdresses were traditionally worn by leaders who had earned the right to wear them by acquiring deep knowledge of their cultures and using that knowledge for the benefit of their peoples. Today, headdresses are worn on ceremonial occasions such as powwows. Often, the wearers of the headdresses will incorporate feathers of particular birds and parts or symbols of other animals to show a belief in the power of those animals.
Ask students to connect the ideas presented in the video to what they observe in the photos of Native Peoples in contemporary Oregon.
Native Peoples were primitive [0:45].
False. Native Peoples had centuries of societal evolution; they were a mature society connected to the universe through all living things (other humans, earth, animals, trees, water).
They were given fishing and hunting rights [4:23].
False. They weren’t “given” anything. When their ancestors made treaties with the US government, they reserved (i.e., kept) those existing rights for themselves.
They don’t pay taxes.
False. They pay personal income tax, sales tax, and property tax.
Their education is substandard, and they’re not ready to handle college.
False. Native Peoples now have a record number of college graduates, and the post-college degree recipients (like law degrees) have increased by 40% in the last 50 years (from 50 lawyers in the 1970s to more than 2000 now).
Possible replies include: wearing feathers and other natural materials shows respect for the natural world and the power of nature; wearing headdresses demonstrates Native Peoples’ belief in their continued right to govern themselves (as they had been doing successfully at the time of European arrival); wearing traditional dress shows pride in heritage and Indian beliefs; participating in rituals such as powwows reinforces Native Peoples’ cultural traditions in which respect for the physical environment is central. The headdress is also a symbol of cultural pride in many communities.