In college, as a history minor, I was required to take Texas history. The class was only offered on Tuesday/Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30. As a sophomore, I signed up to take the class and made it through precisely one class before dropping it. The professor was particularly enamored with some of the more… Shall we say sensationalist aspects of the Native Americans? I left the class with zero appetite that night, and the next morning went to the registrar and dropped the class. So when it came time for my kids to cover Native Americans in our Texas history class, I was dreading it. That is why I farmed out their Native American lesson to them. They studied and created a Native American report.
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Supplies needed for the Native American Report
research material (your local library or online), craft supplies
Prepping for our Native American Report
We read the chapter in our Texas history book on Native Texans. Afterward, they each chose a tribe in Texas to study: Apache, Tonkawa, and Caddo, etc. There are about 10 different tribes we have evidence for in Texas, both the Apache and Comanche were tribes that tended to roam quite a bit, so they are also native to other states. The Cherokee moved into Texas in the mid-1800s after the Trail of Tears, but they’re only up in the panhandle region.
For their project they had to design five scenes depicting different aspects of tribal life:
- how they dressed
- a village scene
- gathering/hunting for food (some tribes had agriculture)
- a fifth scene of their choosing
I warned them ahead of time, some of the tribes they might choose may not have information on this, OR the information we have is after they’ve interacted with Europeans, and that drastically changed their lifestyles. The introduction of horses to the Plains Indians changed their lifestyle in ways I can’t even begin to describe here.
We headed to the library and looked up the different tribes. I pretty much pulled every single book our library had on Native Texas tribes, which is quite a lot. Texans are a bit proud of their history.
The inspiration for our Native American Reports
Before I gave my kids their Native American report assignment, I did a bit of research to see how others had taught this. My research was limited to Texas tribes, but most of the ideas are adaptable to others. All of these ideas are pinned to my Texas history board.
- Native Americans notebook
- Art projects for Native Americans
- Native Texans information page
- Texas Native Americans page
The first two gave me inspiration for useful information for the kids to learn, and the last two gave me more Texas-specific information.
Putting together our Native American reports
After the kids did their research, they started putting together their presentations. I encouraged them to think creatively. They could dress a doll in the clothing for their chosen tribe, make a diorama to show different part, or draw it all out.
Princess immediately sat down, grabbed posterboard and started drawing.
Whereas the boys grabbed Legos and started building. Of course the problem with using LEGOs, you’re limited by the figures and pieces you have. That makes it a bit hard to create the right shapes, and they are quite obviously not dressed the way the natives were.
It also means when I’m writing this
episode post (I was listening to a video on Star Trek: Discovery and they kept saying episode), a year and a half later, I don’t remember what each LEGO picture represented. Luckily I videotaped each of their presentations because otherwise, I wouldn’t have known the grouping of three stormtroopers and one Minecraft figure represented the tribal chiefs and the medicine man.
Giving our Native American Presentations
They had two weeks to work on their presentations. At the end, they had to be able to explain their project, and answer questions. Watching the videos, their siblings enjoyed asking obnoxious questions and trying to stump each other.
The boys’ presentations were somewhat limited because they only used LEGOs. That means their scene showing the clothing was completely inaccurate because LEGO Minecraft figures don’t really look like Apache or Caddo.
Princess by contrast very carefully taped her posterboard on top of itself, and emphatically poked the wall with a cane. That cane is quite a problem in our house, as it gets left about and I trip on it. However, the kids enjoy using it for everything they can think of.
Just so you can get a feel for how the reports went, I’m uploading Princess’ Native American report on the Caddo. You can tell towards the end she’s getting frustrated with her brother’s craziness, but it’s a good presentation and she knew her stuff.
Texas History field trip for Native Texans
There are several sites in Texas that have some great Native American history, especially for the Comanche and Apache, however, those are all on the edges of Texas relative to our location. We were able to go to Longhorn Caverns, which has quite a lot of history, and there’s some artwork in the caves, but we don’t know who did it, and Inner Space Caverns has some paintings similar to the cave paintings in France.
We did get to see the super cool dog statue in the cave, but you just can’t take cool pictures in caves. They look cool at the time, but I look back at them and say, “What is this speck of rock?”
Almost Unschoolers says
I asked a couple of our local elementary school students what they study about Native Americans in school. They tried to tell me that they don’t study anything. I asked them why all the schools put Teepees up on their front lawns in the fall, then. That jogged their memories – and they thought they had learned something, but they couldn’t remember what – the teepees were mainly for them to “not play in”, but the younger kids get to have story times in them. So there you go – your quick and easy lessons are looking pretty thorough 🙂
Wow! I wonder if that’s a grade level thing, and they haven’t reached where it’s taught yet? Of course, like Natalie said, just some people don’t retain what they don’t really care about.
Natalie PlanetSmarty says
This reminded me of A’s class studying local Native American tribes in elementary school. They actually spent quite some time on it doing reports and such. First time was local Ohlone tribe, and we even had a field trip and the second time it was Shasta Native Americans. I felt that A knew a lot about them at the time, but she does not retain what she does not consider relevant, and she was never much into history.
It amazes me what kids retain and they don’t retain sometimes. There’s been books we’ve read and done lots of activities, and they don’t remember a thing.