1. The students will look at several exhibits of Native American art and read several texts containing essential insights of Native Peoples (of any area in the world actually) look at their connection to the land.
2. Begin the class by presenting the exhibition of Shan Goshorn’s work on the website: http://www.amitmay.com/Art%20Gallery/Previous%20Exhibitions/Native%20American/Goshorn%20Exhibit.htm
Shan Goshorn’s work is both very visually accessible (as it is highly representative) and also strongly infused with deeply held Native beliefs about inexorable connection between human beings and the land. The caption for the first image contains very important information for students and they should be given a copy of the following paragraph:
"This body of work, Earth Renewal Series, illustrates the traditional yet ongoing belief of Indian people that we still honor our roles as caregivers to our mother, the earth. The main focus of many of our ceremonies and dances is renewal, of the earth and therefore ourselves. The images are blurred and indistinct just as our responsibilities as earth's children and caretakers are constantly changing. Our commitment to this responsibility is manifested in the joyous but sometimes exhausting physical, mental and spiritual sacrifice; her gift in return is the grounding force that is reflected in our daily lives and gives us the warrior strength to continue our modern battles."
3. After viewing the entire exhibit of Shan Goshorn’s work, they should take detailed notes from the above paragraph about how Native Peoples see themselves in relation to their land. Having seen multiple images of people visibly a part of the landscape, sometimes totally indistinct from it, the students will easily understand ideas in the paragraph on how Native Peoples are both the children of and caretakers of the land. It is a relationship, described in terms of family, not in terms of ownership. After taking notes, they will review ideas together so to begin this lesson looking for target themes.
4. The next presentation is the PDF from the book entitled Our Voices, Our Land, (words by the Indian Peoples of the Southwest). See Handout#2. Students take notes on this presentation showing a continuation of the themes presented by Shan Goshorn such as:
- “The land, the hills, and the mountain has a life in it. The ground which we stand on has a life in it.”
- “The old people told us to respect the land, they tell you to take care of it, take care of it and in turn it will take care of you.”
- “The land means a lot to us. It means home. … I belong to this place.”
Hopefully students will not only see the connection between Our Voices, Our Land and Shan Goshorn’s work but with their own feelings about their special place, the one about which they made a personal map. This line especially should resonate with them: “The land means a lot to us. It means home. … I belong to this place.” After students take notes hold one more brief class discussion looking for questions and making sure students have a good feel for the viewpoint of Native Peoples.
5. The next two handouts (#3 and #4) are longer texts with exploration of more complex nuances of ideas encountered in the first two presentations. Students need to read both handouts, taking detailed notes to be used in the creation of the Venn diagram.
6. After students have taken notes they need to use information gathered from all four sources to create a Venn diagram. Most should know what a Venn diagram is but it is always good to give an example. Many people are familiar with the three circles intersecting as used in math lessons.
7. There are four readings in this lesson. Some students may even wish to do a Venn diagram with all four readings. There is a lot of flexibility in this lesson. Give students an appropriate amount of class time to read, take notes and use the Venn diagram as an organizational tool to visually show how the same central thoughts appear in all four readings. Some students may have to finish up for homework so the final day of this lesson may be devoted to creation of a Venn diagram of ideas on all four selections. At the end of this class students should hand in their individual diagrams for assessment or you may wish to do a quick check of them before the class discussion begins.
The ideas encountered in this lesson are those of Native Peoples of the Americas. However, they are those of all Native Peoples. If you go back into the culture of any ethnic group of people you will hear the same ideas, though expressed in different words sometimes. In the music of all ethnic groups who came to the Americas there is a longing for “home” that is back across the waters. Many settlements and cities in the United States are named “new” something in an attempt to recreate the place where people came from. When we move from the land of our origin we sometimes numb ourselves to the loss of that connection with the land. For Native Peoples of the Americas that connection is not just a memory, a nostalgic longing, or a political choice, it is a current state of being.
If the Venn diagram is not completed before the last day of class it needs to be finished up for homework so students can fully participate in the last day’s activity.