This unit is an opportunity for each student to explore individual cultural identity in order to encourage conversation, expression, and deeper understanding. The unit is developed for grades 6-8. In studying and expressing culture, each student will be able to understand him/her/their self and one another better; perhaps the cultural differences would be bridged by each individual student giving his or her own culture a voice that the others may not have heard before. Lastly, studying the lesser known narratives of American Indian history and daily life will offer a unified cultural focus for the class with the varying perspectives at hand enlightening the subject at a greater level.
This seminar unit has added substance to my previously more limited knowledge on the American Indian history. In traditional American classroom settings and lecture halls, a small amount of the history is part of the curriculum, if any, and is taught as written only by the victors of wars. Studying the history holistically and in detail from primary sources both literary and visual in this seminar has formed the foundation for these lessons that are specifically designed to educate students about said history from more than one perspective. As a result, each individual student will be able to represent the detailed information in his or her artwork more thoroughly and accurately and give American Indian history a voice in the modern urban American classroom.
As the unit begins, students will discuss a brief narrative of American Indian history, how this history has led to modern American Indian culture and daily life, and how the representation of American Indians is often closer to the former. Students will draw commonalities between themselves as Americans, and American Indians as the first Americans, discovering what all Americans might have in common. These can include cultural practices, dance, and art. Thirdly, students will make connections, noticing common injustices served to various cultures in this country’s history. Meaning, by observing their own lives and the lives we study and seeing if there are any injustices that have been served to American Indians, that they may find to be present in their own lives as well. These conclusions will be the focal point of the final project.
The unit is divided into a Didactic Portion, with assignments and an Artistic Expression/Culminating Assignment. The Didactic Portion has three parts: Part I. American Indian Narrative: “Then and Now”, Part II. Looking to common spaces and observing details to find cultural identity, Part III: Didactic Portion Summary and Modifications. Next, is the Creation of Culminating Assignment: Cultural Identity Expression and Connections. This section is divided into Parts based on the steps of the artistic execution. Lastly, the unit is summarized and modifications are offered.