370 Million Indigenous People Want You to Know About Their Cultures
That’s a heady number–370 million people.
My Navajo Rug
When I was a child, I contracted pneumonia at the beginning of a vacation while we were traveling in the southwest. Instead of going home early, my parents bedded me down in the car to sleep at night to get out of the cold while they slept in a very primitive tent trailer. During that crazy vacation I learned how to swallow huge pills for the pneumonia. I can still take lots of pills all at once because of that fateful vacation.
While we traveled on that trip, we stopped somewhere in New Mexico and purchased a Navajo rug. Many years later, when my dad died, my mother gave it to me because they used it to keep me warm in the car during the pneumonia. I will never forget that.
To this day, that Navajo rug lays in our cedar chest protected from the elements. It occurred to me as I worked on this blog post that I have never learned much about the Navajo nation. Why didn’t I learn about them when I was in school?
I’m a Trailer Blazer
I am a person who sees a problem and sets out to fix it in some way. Whenever I see the need, I set to it. Generally, I started youth theater programs for community theaters. I’ve also co-created a national playwriting contest for youth theater plays, developed an ESL drama club and a few programs. My friend said I’m a trail blazer–I create, get the program up and running and then I’m ready to move on. Yup, that’s me!
Three years ago, I opened a drama education store (Dramamommaspeaks at TeacherspayTeachers.com) to provide drama education resources for grades three to twelve. I teach differently. I don’t stay with the tried and true, because there are many opinions about what a student should learn about theater arts. In general, my teacher’s lessons or units are supplimental.
Recently I saw the movie, Hunt for the Wilder People. If you have seen it yet, I strongly suggest that you do. It’s marvelous in so many ways. As I watching this funny and bittersweet story about a Maori boy in New Zealand and his unique relationship to his foster father, I realized I knew very little about the Maori culture.
Who are Indigenous People?
I can’t be the only person who thinks this way. Truth be told, as children we never studied various cultures in social studies. I was a student in the 1960s. I’m sure our current social studies education includes learning about other cultures, but I don’t know how much they are studied.
The world is a mess right now. We have lost our sense of compassion for people who are different from ourselves. Could I help? Maybe a teeny bit.
My research began by seeking information about indigenous people. Looking for facts and details about indigenous people, I found the UnitedNations.org website.
How many people identify as indigenous?
“It is estimated that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide.
Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct
from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Spread across the world from the Arctic to the South
Pacific, they are the descendants – according to a common definition – of those who inhabited a country or a
geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origin. ”
Should I call them Indigenous People?
The UnitedNations.org post continues, “The term “indigenous” has prevailed as a generic term for many years. In some countries, there may be
preference for other terms including tribes, first peoples/nations, aboriginals, ethnic groups, adivasi,
janajati. Occupational and geographical terms like hunter-gatherers, nomads, peasants, hill people, etc.,
also exist and for all practical purposes can be used interchangeably with “indigenous peoples”.
My masters in education focused on arts integration infused in core subjects. Nothing makes me happier than to discover a way to integrate drama into a core subject classroom.
Because arts integration reaches and engages students, I am always on the hunt for learning opportunities using drama integration to support the core subjects.
Enter Indigenous People Units
I collect international folk tales to use in drama class or arts integration lessons. To date, my plays and readers theater units concern about China, Italy, Pakistan, Germany, Romania, Alaska, Japan and a Jewish story. I believe multiculturalism is very importnt. See what I mean. The Reasons Teaching Multiculturalism in the Classroom is Vitally Important
370 Millions People
In light of the world and the racial conflicts which have come to the forefront, I’ve turned my attention people of different cultures–namely indigenous people and their legend and folk tales. I hope social studies, language arts, reading and drama teachers will appreciate the lessons and use them in their classroom. They are enjoying the above mentioned ones I’ve developed.
Here’s a video preview of Sedna, An Inuit Tale
Indigenous People Units
As of this writing, I have two lessons available. I’m hoping in time to have around ten, but of course I can create as many as I can find to share.
The products include:
- Two warm ups–one physical and one imaginative, both boost energy
- Original version of the Legend of Corn Maidens or Magic Lake–great for comparison and contrast
- Teacher’s script–what I say and how I say it!
- Advice in directing reader’s theater
- Blocking plot for performance
- Kachina Dolls or Machu Picchu Information
- Vocabulary and pronunciation
- Who are the Zuni or Inca people?
- Eleven to Thirteen page scripts with roles for 20+
- Original song reminiscent of the Zuni music
- Sheet music (optional for performance)
- Sound bytes of music
- Enrichment activities–designing a costume, designing a set, study of other Native American creation myths or a drama exercise using tableaux
As you can see, there is plenty of material for a lesson or two.
I hope you’ll check out these lessons and the rest to come. Honestly, I don’t know what will be next, but I know one thing–I’m going to help educate our students about indigenous people through dramatic arts. If you are interested in the reasons for teaching multicultural tales go to The Reasons Teaching Multiculturalism in the Classroom is Vitally Important
What arts integration lessons are your favorite? I’d love to hear. Contact me at DhcBaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net