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Encouraging Conversation

We are visiting classrooms in non-Indian schools to give age appropriate discussions with regards to life on the reservation and Native American culture and tradition. The exciting part of this program is that we are not concerning the class with history so much as current events and customs of Indians of today. Lectures and discussions include the daily life of the traditional Indian living in the 21st century. Honoring our environment is just as important as our respect for each other. We integrate the values of traditions of respect for all plant-life, trees and animals in our discussions with the children Our Curriculum

To date we have visited the 2nd thru 4th grades three times per year.

The first session describes the Native American perspective in general with a focus on the Ojibwe people. General topics include the pow-wow, talking circles, sweatlodge, meaning of receiving a feather, ricing, sugarbush, sweatlodge, etc. The circle is a main focus and is compared with he circle of life. Respect for our environment and all living things is woven into this discussion which includes and overview of major events of the yearly cycle.

The second visit, usually in January, focuses on the Elders. What is an Elder? Why should we listen to our Elders? What is the position of the Elder in the community? This discussion describes the Native community and tribal structure. This talk is done in January because we’ve come into the thick of the winter months when story-telling in the Ojibwe communities is at a high. This part of the Ojibwe year is explained and we then have a story of our own. The children are drawn in and get to feel that they are participating in the Ojibwe community ways by hearing a story that is chosen for its’ moral lesson.

The spring session is centered on the sugarbush. Again, the respect for our environment is emphasized. We explain the tapping process and how the syrup is made and stored. But, just as important, the circle of life is complete in caring for and thanking the tree for giving its’ sap for human consumption.

Stories pertinent to the focus of discussion are presented within each discussion.

We mentioned ‘discussion’ quite a bit because we do engage in quite a lot of that. Children are very curious and at these ages we’ve found that the questions are not censored, but quite blunt and straight to the point. And we encourage any and all questions, even those that do not pertain to the specific subject matter. Comparison to the classes’ particular community and culture is given ample opportunity at many points in order to ease divisions and give a point of reference. Warring, political disturbances, etc. are not discussed as we only wish to teach of the tradition and culture of the Ojibwe people. The outline presented here is delivered age appropriately. The level of maturity from even the fall to the spring is quite different so the discussion and presentation is carefully planned to effect the most beneficial outcome for the subject matter.

If your school would be interested in more information on this curriculum please contact