This novel touches on several issues of interest regarding Native Americans, which students can further explore through these activities. First, students investigate the use of Native Americans as sports mascots. Students will also do research on Native leaders depicted in the painting "Founding Fathers." On a lighter note, students have the opportunity to perform reader's theater based on the dramatic nature of the Phoebe Winterbottom character.
After completing this activity, students will be able to:
- Debate both sides of an issue
- Write a persuasive essay
- Research and make an informative presentation
- Perform reader's theater
Grade Level Indicators
In meeting the lesson objectives, students will:
H. Use available technology to compose text
N. Identify an author's argument or viewpoint; assess the adequacy and accuracy of details; identify examples of bias and stereotyping; identify and understand an author's purpose for writing (to explain, entertain, persuade, inform, etc.); and identify intended audience.
This activity will require approximately four 45-minute class periods to complete, if all work is done in class.
- Indian Mascots - 45 minutes
- Reader's Theater - 90 minutes
- Founding Fathers - 45 minutes
- "Founding Fathers" transparency from the Ohio Reading Road Trip Instructor's Guide
- Computer with Internet access and printing capability
Indian Mascots: Should They Stay or Go?
When Sal and her grandparents stop at Injun Joe's Peace Palace Motel, Sal questions the use of the term Indian vs. Native American. Some individuals prefer the term Indian while other individuals prefer the term Native American. In the novel, Sal says that her mother preferred the term Indian, and when Sal asks a man at Pipestone if he is a Native American his response is, "No, I'm a person." When Sal repeats her question, he says that he is an "American Indian person." This provides a good opportunity to explore the issues of stereotyping and the exploitation of cultures.
Begin by asking students what they know about the debate surrounding sports teams that use an "Indian" or "Redskin" mascot. This debate has been raging across the United States for many years. Many school districts and colleges in Ohio have eliminated Indian-themed mascots, with one recent example being Miami University in Oxford, which changed its sports-team name from the Redskins to the Redhawks in 1997. A professional team's mascot who has been a central figure of the debate is "Chief Wahoo" of the Cleveland Indians baseball team.
Web research (starting with a search for "Indian mascot") will provide numerous articles on this issue. While reading these articles, students should identify persuasive techniques used on both sides of the argument. Possible outcomes could be:
- A debate on the issue
- Persuasive essays for or against the use of Native mascots
- A play of some kind, depicting both sides of the issue from the perspective of Native and Anglo students at a sporting event
Some web sites that provide a good start for research include:
This site for Jay Rosenstein's award-winning documentary, In Whose Honor: American Indian Mascots in Sports, includes a radio stream and many other links.
Newspaper articles and editorials:
Web sites by individuals and organizations opposed to Indian mascots (many with links to related newspaper articles):
The Phoebe Winterbottom Reader's Theater
Founding Fathers: Native American Leaders
When Sal and her grandparents visit the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, Sal says, "… the Black Hills … were sacred to the Sioux Indians. It was their Holy Land, but white settlers took it as their own. The Sioux are still fighting for their land." After seeing Mount Rushmore, Sal says, "It was fine seeing the presidents, I've got nothing against the presidents, but you'd think the Sioux would be mighty sad to have those white faces carved into their sacred hill."
Show students the overhead transparency of "Founding Fathers," the painting by artist David Behrens, located in the Instructor's Guide. You can also see the painting at http://www.davidbehrens.com. Have students research the Native American leaders depicted in this painting: Chief Joseph, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, and Red Cloud. You might divide students into groups, assign a different leader to each group, and then have each group make a presentation to the rest of the class.