Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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1. Native Voices   

1. Native Voices

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
- Author
- Context
- Creative Response
- PBL Projects

Activities: Creative Response

  1. Journal: First, freewrite in your journal on whatever you know about Native American literature and cultures. Then, write a narrative from the point of view of a person of your own age who has just encountered Native American culture for the first time. What do you imagine that person would be thinking? What would he or she find most memorable? What emotions would he or she be feeling? What would he or she say to or ask the Native Americans (assuming communication could occur)?

  2. Poet's Corner: Use one of the poems by Tapahonso or Ortiz as a model for a poem about an experience of your own. What about this model is helpful to you in expressing yourself? What seems to interfere or be bothersome? If you have written poems in the past, "translate" one of them into this form so that it echoes elements of the oral tradition. How does changing the form of your poem affect what you understand to be its meaning?

  3. Doing History: Stage a fictional dialogue between Wovoka, the Paiute prophet of the Ghost Dance religion, and a thoughtful, middle-class white person in the Midwest United States, in which they try to explain themselves to each other. Imagine this exchange takes place in early 1890, after the Ghost Dance has begun to spread but before the catastrophe of Wounded Knee. Wovoka is preaching a peaceful yet clearly anti-white spirituality (read the Wovoka selection in The Norton Anthology of American Literature before you do this assignment). The white person, sympathetic to human suffering and not prejudiced against Native Americans, is both anxious about the subversive potential of the Ghost Dance and unavoidably implicated in the society that has nearly decimated native culture. What can these two people say to each other that might build a bridge between them?

  4. Multimedia: As Paula Gunn Allen says in the video, virtually all objects and practices in traditional American Indian life are "messages": "content-laden information that you can read." Using the American Passages image database, construct a multimedia presentation in which you analyze the images of such items as pottery, baskets, sandpaintings, masks, and dances. What "argument" about their culture do they seem to be making? In what sense can these objects or practices be seen as messages, indicating the values or beliefs of the culture that produced them?

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