Working with Values of Indigenous People

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In this unit: Learning game, Writing, Dance, Drama

Grades 2-adult

Resource: “We are the Earth” by Bobbie Kalman or other resources with background information about Indigenous values.

Cooperative Game: “One Chief”: 1 chief, 2 eagle, 3 whale, 4 grizzly bear

One Chief: (This game works on focus, cooperation, spatial and kinesthetic memory.  

  • Like the game of “Atom,” start with a walk about. Call “one.” Students freeze. Then call “chief.” Encourage students to creatively make the shape of a “chief” (elder, leader) using different levels (high, middle, low).

  • Walk about, call “two.” Students quickly form groups of two. Say, “eagle.” Two students form one eagle.

  • “Three, whale”

  • “Four, grizzly bear”

  • Repeat these in sequence, then backwards, then in random order.

(This is my favorite game to use as a Minds On activity for any subject e.g. introducing a story such as “Rupunzel.” E.g. One witch, two castle, three long hair…)

Information: Read and discuss pages 16 – 19 of “We are the Earth” by Bobbie Kalman

Minds On: Creative Movement: In a circle, bodystorm (brainstorm using your bodies) the grizzly bear on the land, whale in the water, eagle in the air and fire in the forest.

Exploration: Divide class into four element groups and assign one topic to each group. Assign each group an element: land (grizzly bear), water (whale), fire (forest), air (eagle).
Bodystorm and record a list of verbs for each element.

Writing: With a partner, put the verbs into a fascinating sentence. 

E.g. The humungous, playful, grey whale was bobbing up and down, spouting when he was up and then diving into the ocean again. 

E.g. The lumbering, black grizzly bear thundered down the hill, ran into the water and snatched the fish with his gigantic paws. 

E.g. The elegant, swooping eagle danced in the gigantic, sunlit sky, then hovered for a moment before plunging toward his prey. 

E.g. The soft, yellow and blue flames grew bigger and louder as the fire gobbled all growth in its path and chased the animals away.

Create an interesting movement sentence with your partner using these verbs. (Note: For fast words such as run and chase, ask students to perform them in slow motion.) Add an interesting freeze at the beginning and end of the movement sentence. Take care to include different levels and speeds in your movement sentence to make it interesting. Look at the elements of dance for support. Record your work.

Information: There are 4 laws of nature: 

  1. There is no waste in nature. 

  2. Everything is connected. 

  3. There is no such place as away. 

  4. The earth has limits. Record on board.


    Indigenous people have lived off natural food of the earth for years and years. They gather, fish, hunt and trap. They care for the earth and respect the spirit of everything. For example, when they kill an animal for food, they thank the animal. We have a job to do with our creator to take care of creation. Be aware and think about the impact we have. It is part of what gives us life.

 Tableaux: In groups of 3 or 4, create a tableau. Each group does a different one. 

  • gather 

  • fish 

  • hunt

  • trap

Share one at a time and create a rotating circle to show community, in between each tableau. Add peaceful nature music in the background for mood.

Consolidation/Sharing Assembly:

  • Part A: The tableaux of gather, fish, hunt and trap are performed as the 4 laws of nature are read using the microphone.

  • Part B: While some students dance their movement sentences, others are reading it using the microphone. Present all the sentences in this part of the dance.

  • Part A: Repeat Part A

  • End in a rotating circle to show community.