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Wisconsin Native Creation Narratives

By June Shoemaker
Standards: 4.1, 4.3, 4.10
Grade Level: Elementary
Topic: Early Native Peoples

Lesson Plan Text:

Introduction/Background: When a culture does not have a written language, it relies heavily on an oral tradition of transferring information and history from one generation to the next. By examining the creation narratives of the Ho-Chunk and Menominee, students can gain an understanding of the rich culture and beginnings of these two native cultures.

Lesson Objectives: Students will be able to:á
1. Explain/retell the Creation narratives of the Menominee.
2. Explain/retell the Creation narratives of the Ho-Chunk
3. Compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the Menominee and Ho-Chunk creation narratives.

Information Sources/Resources:á
Article--History--Early Menominees --áMenominee Creation Narrative

Manuscript-- Ho-Chunk Creation Narrative,-- ┐Earth-maker Creates the World,┐ a traditional account of the Ho-Chunk┐s origin as told to anthropologists in the 20th century.

Suggested Activities:
1. Discuss the use of folktales and creation narratives in all cultures.

2. Discuss the importance of an oral-history tradition in Native cultures.

3. Read and discuss the modern Menominee narrative. Have students identify the key points of the story and list them.

4. Read and discuss the 1850 recorded Ho-Chunk narrative. Have students identify the key points of the story and list them.

5. Using a Venn diagram, fill in the differences and similarities between the Menominee and Ho-Chunk narratives.

6. Have students choose one of the narratives and retell it in their own words; short story, poem, drawing.

7. Have student groups create a puppet show or play to tell the creation story of one of the two tribes.

8. Share stories, poems, drawings, or plays with the class.

Conclusions: By examining the creation narratives of two Wisconsin native cultures, students will gain an appreciation of the importance of a strong oral-history tradition.

Assessment: Through class participation and discussion, students will demonstrate the importance of creation narratives in cultures relying on an oral-history tradition. Students will demonstrate their own understanding of the creation narratives by retelling them in their own words.

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