Mapping Your Space (8.2)


Native American Culture Curriculum Unit 8.2


Task Author: Bob Valiant
Task Title: Mapping Your Space
Grade Level: 6-8 Activity # 8.2
Geography Grade 8 benchmark

Brief Overview of Task:
Students will be given a problem to solve as a member of an Indian band (circa 1750) located on the site of their community. Given information regarding the “seasonal cycle” of the local band, they will be asked to solve the problem. The students will then explore various resources to learn how Native Americans used the land and its resources to solve the problem. Since horses arrive in the region about 1750 students are asked to predict how use of the horse would affect the solutions already devised.

Targeted Benchmark:
Identify economic, cultural, and environmental factors that affect population and predict how the population would change as a result.


Recommended Prerequisite Student Knowledge and Skills:
Knowledge of the local area
Research on the Internet

Materials Needed:
Materials Generally Available:
White butcher paper to cover a large area of the wall
Art paper, markers, crayons, poster gum (to attach cutouts to the large map)
Local materials such as vegetation, rocks, etc.
Special Items: (Teacher must provide)

Citation and Helpful Resources: (i.e. books, web sites, etc.)
Readings: Seasonal Cycle
Internet: :
Animals: Oregon’s Large Mammals; Appaloosa History and Information
Geography: Oregon A-Z; USGS Columbia Plateau Maps and Graphics
Museums: High Desert Museum; Wenatchee Valley Plateau Indian Culture
Research: Researching American Indians
Technology: Whitman Museum Teacher’s Guide
Tribal Information: Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation; The Culture of the Warm Springs Indians; John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Archaeology: Center for the Study of First Americans; Malheur National Forest Heritage Program
General Resources: Central Oregon Heritage Group; American Indians of the Pacific Northwest
History: Warm Springs Public Information Department

Recommended Classroom Time: (in hours)
6-10 hours

Detailed Description of Task for Teachers:
1. The teacher begins with a narrative that sets the stage for the unit. The time period is about 1750 and the setting is the general area where the school is located. Students assume roles as members of a band of Native Americans who are currently residing on the site of the school and gathering food as part of their seasonal cycle. A source of Native American names is
The students are given a copy of the “seasonal cycle” and must first determine what time of the year they would likely be found at this location.
2. A large-scale map of the territory of the band is prepared. This must take into account the seasonal cycle and the fact that they do not have horses or other beasts of burden to carry their belongings as they travel about hunting and gathering. Resource maps on the Internet or teacher supplied topographical maps will help in this exercise. Students can work independently or in small groups to come up with ideas, but class consensus should determine the final map. The completed map is hung on the wall of the classroom. Locate likely sites for each of the seasonal camps and mark them on the map.
3. Students draw and cut out 6″-8″ depictions of their character and mount them on the map with poster gum so they can be moved. They prepare a written biography of their character and share them with others in the class.
4. The teacher explains that it is now time to move to their next camp since the season is changing. Students brainstorm how they will get all of their belongings to the next campsite, what route they will follow, how long it will take, what they can bring along, what they must create anew, etc. They can research the cultural websites to determine the kinds of things they possess. Students prepare an oral presentation to present at tribal council to describe their plan. Routes are then marked on the large map.
5. At the new camp, the band meets other members of its tribal group who have recently acquired horses. They are able to purchase several for their own use. Students are asked to determine the consequences of the acquisition on the future of the band and prepare written descriptions of anticipated changes including the following:
Range of the band
Trade for needed goods
Conflict with neighboring bands
6. Add to the large map to show any anticipated changes.
7. Invite another class to a presentation by members of the band.

Additional Contexts and /or Possible Extensions of Task:
Visit High Desert or Warm Springs Museum
Interview tribal elders from Warm Springs via 2-way video. Prepare interview questions in advance to determine how the three cultures of the reservation survived with and without horses.

Additional Resource:

Winter was the time when groups of Columbia Plateau people settled into river valley villages that had been occupied by previous generations of their people. Sheltered from the wind and stocked with firewood the families would live on foods gathered during the previous seasons, including dried fish, berries, and roots. Occasionally they would hunt nearby deer or elk to supplement their diet. Winter was not a season of inactivity. Repair and manufacture of tools and clothes were necessary in order to be ready for another season of hunting, gathering, and fishing. Storytelling was another way to pass the time during the short days and long nights. Many of the stories could not be told at other times of the year or it was said “a snake would crawl up your leg”. These stories taught the children the history and legends of their people, creating a link from the ancestors to the present day.
Early spring sometimes meant food shortages among the people – snow still covered the mountains, fish were still scarce, berries had not yet formed on the bushes. The families who had lived together in winter villages now began to move into smaller camps away from other families in order to hunt and gather what they could.
Mid-April to May was the time of the First-Fruits and First-Salmon ceremonies. This was a time of thanksgiving and celebration for ripening roots and fish returning to the area. Favorite fishing spots along the river were populated with men from many tribes while women gathered camas roots in the hills, marshes, and meadows. As summer arrived, different fruits ripened and other foods became available. The tribe typically moved to where they knew food to be ready for gathering, sharing the land with other tribes. The Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Nez Perce shared food gathering and hunting areas in the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington. By mid-summer, the tribe usually had enough food gathered to concentrate on social events. The Grande Ronde Valley of Oregon was a gathering-place for tribes. Here they traded, danced, gambled, raced horses, and intermarried with other tribes, creating permanent alliances.
Fall was again a time of renewed activity in hunting, gathering, and fishing. It was the last opportunity before the winter to obtain and store foods for the coming winter. Hides were tanned; fish, game animals, and berries were dried for food, and houses were repaired with new tule. As the snows began, the small groups that had spread out for the time of last hunting and gathering again came together in the large winter villages of their ancestors.

From: Oregon Indians: Culture, History and Current Affairs, 1983, Oregon Historical Society Press.


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