Native American Folktales

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Native American Folktales

Text of Native American Folktales

  • Native-American Folktales

    Teachers Guide

    Written by Barri Golbus

    Produced by


  • All material in this program is the exclusive property of the copyright holder. Copying, transmitting or reproducing in any form or by any means without prior permission from the copyright holder or its distributor is prohibited by Federal Law (Title 17, U.S. Code Sections 501 and 506).

    Copyright 1997 Colman Communications Corp.



    Page Program Overview 4 Intended Audience and Uses 4 Program Synopsis 5 Student Objectives 6 Suggested Lesson Plan 6 Instructional Strategies 6 Introduction 8 Previewing Activities 9 Post-viewing Activities 10 Purposes of Handout Material 13 Answer Key 14 Transcript of the Video 15 About the Music and Storyteller 24


  • Native-American Folktales

    Time: 20 minutes

    PROGRAM OVERVIEW Intended Audience and Uses This video is intended to be used with young people, ages 8-13, but certainly can be used by older youngsters and adults, also. The program has been designed to be used in the following settings:

    Classroom: Social Studies units on Native-American culture; Reading units on folktales; Literature units on comparative literature and folk literature; Multicul- tural Studies units on Native-American culture.



  • Independent Study: Mythology, comparative literature and comparative cultural studies.

    School and Public Library: Story time and story hour programs.

    Program Synopsis Native-American Folktales has four tales from four different tribes. The first, Turkey Girl, comes from the Pueblo culture of the Southwest. It shows the importance of trust in Pueblo culture, and explains why wild turkeys flee when humans approach. Viewers easily will see the parallels between this Native-American tale and the European tale, Cinderella. The second story comes from the Pawnee, a Plains Indian tribe. The Boy Who Loved Bears helps viewers understand the significance of bears in Pawnee culture, and recognize the deep bond between Native Americans and nature. A young brave is killed by a raiding party, but is brought back to life by a bear, and the two lead parallel lives. The third story, Pelican Girl, comes from the Miwok people of the Pacific coast. It was a cautionary tale that encouraged children to obey tribal rules. Pelican Girl has just become a woman, and, according to the ways of her people, must not pick berries or bend down for several weeks. But she forgets, and for this transgression is kidnapped by Shoko, a shaman from the North. Using magical powers, an elder from her village rescues the young girl. NOTE: It is strongly recommended that you preview Pelican Girl before showing it to primary-level students. Because the story depicts a monster who kidnaps a child, it may not be appropriate for younger, more sensitive viewers. The final tale, Storytelling Stone, comes from the Seneca people of the northeastern woodland area. It explains how stories first came to humans. An orphan, Flying Crow, decides to leave his village because he is despised and taunted due to his lack of parents. After traveling for many



  • days, he sets camp near a huge stone. The stone tells the young man how to receive tales. After learning to give thanks and make sacrifices for the stories, Flying Crow becomes the first person to hear them. In time, he passes along the stories to others.

    STUDENT OBJECTIVES After viewing this video and participating in the suggested activities, students should be able to do the following:

    1. Give a brief oral or written synopsis of each story.

    2. Briefly explain the lifestyles of the peoples depicted in each story.

    3. Discuss the moral or theme of the story.

    4. Tell how nature plays an important role in Native- American culture, and give examples from the stories.

    5. Compare and contrast the living patterns of the peoples shown in each folktale.


    1. Instructional Strategies

    a. Primary/Elementary Levels

    At the primary level, teachers may wish to stress the interesting clothing and lifestyles depicted in the stories. There are also excellent depictions of Native-American shelters, both interior and exterior. A discussion of these structures will give children some insight into American Indian ways of living. It should be noted that each group



  • lived in a distinctive way. The Pueblo, Pawnee, Miwok and Seneca exhibit differences in living patterns, and these differences should be pointed out to the viewers. (The Miwok, for example, are shown as gatherers and the Pawnee are shown as hunters.) Comparisons may be made between the living patterns of the ancient Native Americans and the living patterns of the children who view the program. For example, did the young people in the stories attend school as children do today? If not, how and what did they learn to live successfully in the adult world? Story themes also may be explored. The depth of this exploration will depend, of course, on the age of the viewers and their abilities. b. Jr./Sr. High Levels Older students may find it beneficial to explore the comparative literature aspects of the tales. An in-depth exploration of the lifestyles depicted may also prove to be instructive to viewers. It should be noted that, for accuracy, the everyday hair styles, clothing, regalia, jewelry, shelters, artifacts and geographical settings shown in the video have been meticulously researched. The illustrative aspects of the program therefore afford students ample opportunity to think seriously about the physical aspects of the cultures depicted. Moreover, the stories have been chosen because they illustrate key facets of each groups worldview. In addition, they offer a look at one or more aspects of each tribes value system. c. Single View vs. Combined View Depending on your objectives, all the stories may be shown in one setting, or single stories may be shown and discussed before moving onto the next. Regardless of which method you choose, the producers encourage you to compare and contrast the stories in terms of themes, plots, artifacts, clothing and living patterns depicted. In that way, viewers will come to appreciate the differences among



  • the cultures depicted, as well as the similarities.

    2. Introduction a. Primary/Elementary Levels Ask if anyone has ever heard a Native-American folktale. If so, request a brief overview of the story. Then discuss why Native Americans might tell stories. Help the class understand that people everywhere in the world tell stories to entertain themselves. They also tell stories to pass on important ideas to the next generation, and to warn children about possible dangers. Then ask what important ideas might Native Americans want to pass on. About what things might they need to warn their children?

    b. Jr. /Sr.High Levels Discuss the role of folktales in world literature. You

    may pass out The Importance of Folktales to start the discussion. Then have your students discuss their favorite folktales. Help your class understand that folktales can be an important guidepost used to analyze a culture. Folktales give information about a societys values, customs and worldviews. Use any familiar folktale your students know to illustrate this fact, or have your students give examples. Write Values, Customs and Worldviews on the chalkboard or overhead projector. List your students comments as they analyze one or more folktales. (For the purposes of this lesson, worldview is defined as how the members of a particular culture see the world in terms of their place in the cosmos; the cultures concepts of a Superior Being and its relationship to that Being; the cultures relationship to its environment and whether it views that environment as primarily hostile or friendly.)

    Tell the class that the American Indian literary tradition is, to a large degree, oral rather than written. Ask your students to speculate on possible reasons. Help them



  • understand that a written literary tradition requires certain technologies and lifestyles. Would it be practical (or even possible) for migratory groups, such as Plains Indians, to carry large libraries from place to place on horseback? Wouldnt it be more advantageous to have a groups literary tradition memorized and spoken?

    Students should be aware of the importance of storytelling in Native-American cultures. It was and in many cases, still is one of the most important means a tribe has to educate its members in tribal beliefs and history.

    c. Handout Material If you feel it will be helpful to your students, pass

    out American Indian Tribes. Discuss the implications of so many groups residing in areas with differing climates and geographical variations. What might be the effects of those differences in terms of living styles and worldviews?

    3. Previewing Activities

    a. Primary/Elementary Levels Tell the class they will now see a video that shows some Native-American folktales. Tell the class that you will want each person to pay close attention not only to the stories, but also to what the people do, where they live, the kinds of homes they have and the clothing they wear.

    b. Jr./Sr. High Levels

    Tell the class they will now see a video that shows four Native-American folktales. Pass out the Viewers Concept Guide and give the class ti