Grade Two Thematic Unit Part 1: First Nation Creation Stories

Part One: First Nation Creation Stories

Language Arts or Creative Writing: Understanding First Nation Creation Stories

Time Frame: 60 Minutes.

Objectives:

  • Students will be able to read the First Nation Creation story that is located at the end of this lesson plan, retell it to someone, and write their own Creation Story as a group.

Methodology:

  • Reading
  • Retelling
  • Authoring

Materials:

  • First Nation Creation Stories
  • Access to Internet
  • Access to School Library
  • Language Arts Notebook or Loose Leaf Paper
  • Imagination

Space Requirements: Classroom and other areas where students can break into small groups.

Background Information: Within most schools the accepted norm was to teach children that all First Nations people came from a Mongolian tribe in China through the Bering Strait, it is just within recent years that while that theory is being taught several other theories are taught to balance that theory (The Applied History and Research Group, 2000).

One of these other theories is told within First Nation communities: Creation stories. A good book to read prior to teaching and reading these creation stories with your students is Julie Cruikshank’s book Reading Voices. This is a book which provides readers with a basic understanding of oral stories and the written word through providing background information and integrating personal stories within.

First Nation Creation stories often depict water, as does the following story, “Turtle Island”. Many Algonquin Nations believe that they live on Turtle Island, which is where North America was formed on the back of a Turtle.

  • For a motivational set, have your students view a world globe. On the globe if you look carefully you can see the turtle’s arms, legs and head forming the North American continent. Pass around the globe and talk about how this legend and story are amazing when you consider that First Peoples had no way of knowing that North America resembled a turtle when it is viewed from outer space.
  • Explain the following names to the children:
    • Gitchi Manitou – The Ojibwe believe the Gitchi- Manitou is believed to be the most powerful of spirits, possessing the ability to visualize anything and give it life (Native Art in Canada, 2007). The Gitchi-Manitou is considered to be the Creator, or the Great Mystery (Callahan, 1998). The Gitchi has alternative names, like Kitchi Manitou which is used in the previous story. Other names include:
      • Gitche -Manito
      • Gitshche-Manitou
      • Gitchi -Manitou
      • Gitchie-Manitou
      • Kitchi-Manitou
      • Kitshi-Manitou
      • Kitche-Manitou (Saunders et al., 2008)
    • Anishinabe – an older name for Ojibwe (Callahan, 1998).
    • Four Winds- The number four holds importance in Ojibwe culture as the four directions (North, South, East, and West) are central to the Ojibwe as they are seen as representing physical and spiritual duality (Callahan, 1998).

Directions/Procedure: Creation story included at the end of this lesson plan.

  1. Allow the students 20 minutes to read the creation story on their own and then with the class.
    • Identify the tribe of origin for the story.
    • Who are the main characters in the story?
    • How does water play a role in the story?
    • Why did the birds want the land?
    • Who did the birds elect to be Chief?
    • Who found the land?
  2. Have students break into groups of three or four to talk about the story in their own words. Have the students pick one person from their group to retell the story in front of the class, without looking at the story. This method of oral storytelling was used for centuries (15 minutes).
  3. Have students work alone at their desk to rephrase and rewrite their Creation Story (20 minutes). Have students:
    • Highlight the important part(s) of their story.
    • Write the story in one to three paragraphs depending on the ability of the student.
    • Identify the main characters.
    • Identify the tribe or nation the story was written about.

Evaluation: The evaluation will be twofold:

  1. There will be a mark for the submitted final copy of their written story recapping a First Nation Creation Story. 
  2.  The second mark will be given by their classmates through a peer group evaluation. Please note the rubrics included at the end of this unit.

Beneficial Resources:

 For Language Arts or Creative Writing: First Nation Creation Stories:

Creation, Migration, Origin Stories (2008) The Origin of Earth. Retrieved from http://www.indigenouspeople.net/origeart.htm

Cruikshank, J. (1991). Dan Dhá Ts’edenintth’é Reading Voices: Oral and Written Interpretations of the Yukon’s Past. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.

Goble, P. (1996). Remaking the Earth: A Creation Story from the Great Plains of North America. New York: Orchard Books.

Hooker, R. (1996). World Civilizations. Retrieved from http://gened.wsu.edu/worldciv/resources/

Jenks, K. (1999). Sacred Creation Narratives from North America. Retrieved from http://www.mythinglinks.org/ct~creation3.html

Library and Archives Canada. (2005). Haida. Retrieved from http://www.collectionscanada.ca/settlement/kids/021013-2061.1-e.html

Library and Archives Canada. (2005). Mi’kmaq. Retrieved from http://www.collectionscanada.ca/settlement/kids/021013-2091.3-e.html

Library and Archives Canada. (2005). Wendat (Huron). Retrieved from http://www.collectionscanada.ca/settlement/kids/021013-2111.1-e.html

Muskrat’s Den BBS. (2004). How Muskrat Created the World. Retrieved from http://www.muskrat.com/index.htm#MuskratLegends

Taylor, C.J. (1994). Bones in the Basket: Native Stories of the Origin of People. Montreal: Tundra Books.

Physical Education: First Nation Creation Story I

Time Frame: 45 minutes

Objectives: For students to gain a deeper understanding of the story “The Origin of Earth” which was read in Language Arts previously.

Background Information: This game will provide students with an understanding of the Egalitarian governing systems which Aboriginal people used prior to westerner’s governing systems. Below is a handout you can read to your students before playing Chief Eagle and Crawfish. This handout, Ojibway Clan Systems, will provide students with an easy to read and understand description of how the Ojibway people governed themselves prior to the governing systems used today. The handout below was copied from a swebsite which referenced Benton-Banai’s book The Mishomis book: The voice of the Ojibway.

Materials:

  • Creation Story: The Origin of Earth
  • Handout: Ojibway Clan Systems
  • Floor Space in open area
  • Identifying markers (picture on nametag or coloured ribbon) for Eagle and Crawfish
  • Whistle
  • Pieces of paper or rug squares
  • Imagination

Directions/ Procedure:

  1. Read the Ojibway Clan Systems handout to the class
  2. Recap the earlier story from language arts. Talk about how the birds elected Eagle Chief. Define the parameters of the game:
    • a. An election is done to appoint someone and that person instructs others. Have the students elect a person as their eagle. Have the students do this a few times so other students also get a chance.
    • b. They can only vote for one person. The Chief is nominated by the people by a majority vote. Have students raise their hands to vote someone to be Chief.
    • c. Then have the Chief pick someone to be the crawfish. Identify and distinguish the crawfish from the Chief.
    • d. All of the students (other than the Chief and the crawfish) are birds. Discuss what birds do (swim, fly, build nests, and lay eggs).
    • e. The children stand on the outside of the perimeter until the crawfish is done and then they are to land on an island. The crawfish throws rugs or papers within the circle (representing newly formed islands). There should be one or two less papers/rugs than children.
    • f. Birds who do not find an island go to the outside of the circle flapping their wings.
    • g. Eagle picks up the rugs/papers when the whistle blows. Eagle takes his/her choice of rugs/papers out of the game.
    • h. Crawfish then distributes the islands again. The birds try to land on an island.
    • i. This continues until there are no islands again and all the birds are flapping their wings on the perimeter of the circle. The game can continue again. Time frame for each game is about seven to ten minutes.

Resource: Tuskegee (1996). The Origin of Earth. Retrieved from http://www.ilhawaii.net/~stony/lore35.html

Benton-Banai, E. (1988). The mishomis book : The Voice of the Ojibway. St. Paul, Minn: Indian Country Press.

OJIBWAY CLAN SYSTEM

People of all nations in the world essentially have the same basic needs: food, protection, education, medicine and leadership. Traditionally, the Ojibway Clan System was created to provide leadership and to care for these needs. There were seven original clans and each clan was known by its animal emblem, or totem. The animal totem symbolized the strength and duties of the clan. The seven original clans were given a function to serve for their people.

The Crane and the Loon Clans were given the power of Chieftainship. By working together, these two clans gave the people a balanced government with each serving as a check on the other.

Between the two Chief Clans was the Fish Clan. The people of the Fish Clan were the teachers and scholars. They helped children develop skills and healthy spirits. They also drew on their knowledge to solve disputes between the leaders of the Crane and Loon Clans.

The Bear Clan members were the strong and steady police and legal guardians. Bear Clan members spent a lot of time patrolling the land surrounding the village, and in so doing, they learned which roots, bark, and plants could be used for medicines to treat the ailments of their people.

The people of the Hoof Clan were gentle, like the deer and moose or caribou for whom the clan is named. They cared for others by making sure the community had proper housing and recreation. The Hoof Clan people were the poets and pacifists avoiding all harsh words.

hoof clan

The people of the Martin Clan were hunters, food gatherers and warriors of the Ojibway. Long ago, warriors fought to defend their village or hunting territory. They became known as master strategists in planning the defence of their people.

eagle chief

The Bird Clan represented the spiritual leaders of the people and gave the nation its vision of well-being and its highest development of the spirit. The people of the Bird Clan were said to possess the characteristics of the eagle, the head of their clan, in that they pursued the highest elevations of the mind just as the eagle pursues the highest elevations of the sky.

To meet all the needs of the nation, the clans worked together and cooperated to achieve their goals. The Clan System had built in equal justice, voice, law and order and it reinforced the teachings and principles of a sacred way of life. Today some people still follow their clan duties, but, for the most part, the original force and power of the Clan System has diminished to a degree of almost non-existence.

clan system
"Cherish youth, but trust old age." -Pueblo

Language Arts or Creative Writing: Understanding First Nation Creation Stories II

Time Frame: 60 minutes

Objectives: Students will be able to read the First Nation Creation story that is located at the end of this lesson plan, retell it to someone and write their own Creation Story as a group.

Methodology:

  • Reading
  • Retelling
  • Authoring

Materials:

  • First Nation Creation Story “The Origin of Turtle Island” photocopied and handed out.

Space Requirements: The classroom

Background Information: A good book to read prior to teaching and reading these creation stories with your students is Julie Cruikshank’s book Reading Voices. This is a book which provides readers with a basic understanding of oral stories and the written word through providing background information and integrating personal stories within.

Cruikshank, J. (1991). Dan Dhá Ts’edenintth’é Reading Voices: Oral and Written Interpretations of the Yukon’s Past. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd

Directions/Procedure:

  1. Talk to the students about oral storytelling and its history in Canada.
  2. Allow students time to read their story first on their own and then with the class (10 minutes).
  3. After reading the story as a class, ask the students the following questions (10 minutes). Discussion Questions:
    • What is the name for the tribe of origin in the story?
    • Who are the main characters of the story?
    • How does water play a role in the story?
    • Why do you think the birds wanted land?
    • Who did the birds elect to be chief?
    • Who was the first to look for land? Who actually found the land?
  4. Have students break into dyads or triads to work on retelling the story using their own words. Have students share their story with others in the group. Next have the students pick one person’s version of the story and, as a group, retell their story to the rest of the class. Remind them they are not to look at their story (15 minutes).
  5. Have students work alone at their desks to rephrase and rewrite their creation story; have them highlight the important part(s) of the story. They are to write the story in one to three paragraphs depending on the ability of the student. The students should be able to identify the main characters and which tribe or nation the story was written about. The students should also draw a picture to depict the story (20 minutes).

Evaluation: The evaluation will grade two areas of the students’ work. First, the child will be marked on their presentation of their oral story and second the child can be marked on their final written copy of their story recapping this First Nation Creation Story. Please note the rubrics included at the end of this unit.

Beneficial Teachers’ Resources: As a teacher, you should also be able to put yourself in the position of a learner as well. When teaching Operation Water Spirit we request that teachers do as much as they can to become familiar with Aboriginal peoples’ history in Canada, Contemporary Issues and Aboriginal perspectives and discourses to education. Part one of the Grade Two Thematic Unit focuses on Creation Stories. This unit is to be taught to students with respect and sensitivity. In order to accomplish this as well as provide you, the teacher, with a stronger understanding of oral traditions in Canada we recommend you read the following:

Benton-Bania, Edward, (1988). The Mishomis Book: The Voice of the Ojibway. Indian Country Communications.

Library and Archives Canada. (2005). Haida. Retrieved from http://www.collectionscanada.ca/settlement/kids/021013-2061.1-e.html

Library and Archives Canada. (2005). Mi’kmaq. Retrieved from http://www.collectionscanada.ca/settlement/kids/021013-2091.3-e.html

Library and Archives Canada. (2005). Wendat (Huron). Retrieved from http://www.collectionscanada.ca/settlement/kids/021013-2111.1-e.html

Momaday, N.S. (1993). The Becoming of the Native: Man in America before Columbus. In America in 1492: The World of the Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of Columbus, ed. Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. NY: Vintage.

Muskrat’s Den BBS. (2004). How Muskrat Created the World. Retrieved from http://www.muskrat.com/index.htm#MuskratLegends

Additional Activities and Ideas

Muskrat in Water Paper Plate Craft

Materials:

  • Creation Story: Turtle Island
  • Paper plates (The stronger the better)
  • At least one muskrat picture and additional fish and/or sea mammal pictures (These can be drawn/made by the students or cut out of magazines).
  • Plastic wrap
  • Sand, leaves, shells, small plastic plants etc.
  • A variety of blue and green shades of tissue paper
  • String
  • Hole punch

Directions:

  1. For homework, ask students to collect at least one picture of a muskrat, as well as other pictures of fish and other underwater mammals. Have extra pictures on hand for students who were not able to find any pictures or forgot.
  2. Provide each student with 1 paper plate, 4 coloured pieces of tissue paper (of their choice), 1 long string, some leaves, shells and a tablespoon of sand.
  3. Show the students how to place glue on their plates and pour/shake the sand around on their plates to represent the land at the bottom of the body of water.
  4. Have students use their chosen tissue paper to represent water; they can cut and scrunch it any way they choose and glue it to their plate.
  5. Students can then glue their accessories (leaves, shells, plastic plants) and chosen pictures of muskrats, fish, and other sea mammals onto their plates.
  6. Cover the plate with plastic wrap for protection and tie the paper plate with the string so that the students are able to hang their creation around their neck and walk around the classroom to show their creation to their fellow classmates. After this has been completed, hang the plates on the wall.

Reading/Language Arts/Creative Writing: The Origin of Earth

Origin: Tuskegee

Key:

key
the origin of earth
the origin of earth
the origin of earth
the origin of earth

Resource: Tuskegee (1996). The Origin of Earth. Retrieved from http://www.ilhawaii.net/~stony/lore35.html

the origin of turtle island
the origin of turtle island
the origin of turtle island key