In the Bag (8.4)


Native American Culture Curriculum Unit 8.4


Task Author: Bob Valiant
Task Title: In the Bag
Grade Level: 6-8 Activity # 8.4
Geography Grade 8 benchmark

Brief Overview of Task:
Students will be given the problem of transporting goods from one place to another. They will be given a quantity of local materials to design and construct containers for this purpose. They will then research methods used by Plateau Indians to construct baskets and other containers. A paper will be written describing the availability of resources as a factor influencing cultural characteristics such as basket making or art.

Targeted Benchmark:
Identify and compare physical and human characteristics of major regions and significant places in the world.
Recognize relationships between the physical and cultural characteristics of a place or region.


Recommended Prerequisite Student Knowledge and Skills:
Knowledge of the local area
Research on the Internet
Writing skills
Materials Needed:
Materials Generally Available:
Local materials such as pebbles
Special Items: (Teacher must provide)
Long grass
Willow (thin, straight branches)
Cattail leaves and stems

Citation and Helpful Resources: (i.e. books, web sites, etc.)
Art: Indian Basket Collection
Technology: Native Tech (Go to the bottom of the page, click “home”, then look for weaving and cordage).
Tribal Information: Indians of the Plateau B.C.; Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation; Cayuse Indians
General Resources: Many of the sites have information on basket making using various materials.
Do a “Google Search” on basket making

Recommended Classroom Time: (in hours)
3-5 hours

Detailed Description of Task for Teachers:
1. Divide students into small groups. Each group is given a double handful (or more) of small objects such as pebbles and one bundle of local material such as long grass, tule reeds, cattail leaves, or thin willow branches. They also receive a 10 foot length of string. They are instructed to use the materials to construct a container or basket that could be used to hold their collection of pebbles for transportation during a long walk.
2. Students in each group use their materials to design and construct a container. A drawing of their design and a written description of the process they used are included with their project, which is then presented to the class.
3. Students research Native American solutions to the container problem beginning with Plateau Indians. They may also wish to explore solutions by tribes from other regions. The students then attempt to refine their product
4. A display of the projects can be presented to another class or placed in a display case in the school.
5. A class discussion of how tribes across the continent solved the problem concludes the topic. A list of the ideas students present can be developed on the board or overhead. Once the list is completed, the teacher can help the students discover that this aspect of culture (basket making) is dependent on the physical resources of the environment.
Additional Contexts and /or Possible Extensions of Task:
Students can use their baskets as a starting point to construct art objects using the techniques they have learned.


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