Crow Indian Tribe Lesson Plan

See Updated Version of Crow Lesson Here.

“…To have us left out all these years, and then for him to come here, it shows respect, and it makes us optimistic.”–Old Coyote, his response to the visit from [then] Presidential Candidate  Barak Obama–May 19, 2008

Questions for Discussion

1. Explain the statement made by Old Coyote.

2. At the time this statement was made Obama was only a candidate, why were the Crow people so optimistic?

The Crow: A Concise History

1. The Crow, also known as Absaroka or Apsaalooke, are a tribe of American Indians who originally lived in the Yellowstone River Valley. They now reside on a reservation south of Billings, Montana. The name of the tribe was mistranslated by the early interpreters as meaning ” people of the crows.” The name literally means “children of the large-beaked bird” a name given to them by the neighboring Hidatsa Indians.

2. The Crow’s main source of food was bison, but they also hunted sheep, deer and other game. They were a nomadic people, and had more horses than any other plains tribe. Women held a significant role within the tribe. The Crow were matrilineal, so the husband moved into the wife’s house upon marriage.

3. Today about 75 percent of the Crow tribe’s approximately 10,000 or more enrolled members live on or near the reservation. Eighty-five percent speak Crow as their first language. Prior to the 2001 Constitution, the Crow nation was governed by a Tribal Council.
Now, the Crow have established a three-branch government at a 2001 council meeting. The Crow still maintain a Tribal Council.

4. For years the vast coal deposits under the eastern portion of the reservation were untapped. One mine is now in operation and provides royalty income and employment for the tribal members. The Crow maintain a large buffalo herd, which also generates income. The St. Labre Indian School offers preschool through high school education for Crow children.

5. While he was a presidential candidate, President Barack Obama was officially adopted into the Crow Nation. This occurred when he visited the reservation during his campaign for the presidency of the United States. This was the first time a presidential candidate had visited a tribal reservation. President Obama has reached out to help the Native American Indians in this country.

6. The following is an excerpt from the Washington Post newspaper describing President Obama’s visit to the Crow reservation during his campaign for President.

“…Drums pounded and the crowd cheered as Obama was escorted to the podium by his “new parents,” Hartford and Mary Black Eagle, in the manner of a groom being walked down the aisle. Obama beamed. His adoptive parents gave Obama hugs as he stepped onto a riser to speak.”

I want to thank my new parents,” he said. “The nicest parents you could ever want to know. I like my new name. Barack Black Eagle. That is a good name!”

For all the symbolism — members of the tribe wore colorful traditional clothing and feathered head-dresses — Obama addressed some issues of serious concern not only to the 12,100-member Crow Nation but to many Native American tribes around the country.

Obama told those gathered that he intended to acknowledge the “tragic history” of Native Americans over the past three centuries. They “never asked for much, only what was promised by the treaty obligations of their forebears,” he said, promising to honor those treaties.
The visit also had political value for Obama. The members of the Crow Nation vote as “a close-knit bloc,” Old Coyote said. “Now that Senator Obama is part of the family, that is where we will go..”.
Washington Post

Exercise 1 Vocabulary Practice: Words in context.

Directions: The following sentences are from the reading selection you’ve just finished. Find and highlight each of the words in bold, then infer the meanings from the context. Highlight any additional words that you aren’t familiar with and do the same with those. Check your answers with your group members, and then refer to your dictionary or thesaurus to confirm your guesses.

1. They now reside on a reservation south of Billings, Montana.

2. The name was of the tribe was mistranslated by the early interpreters as meaning  people of the crows.

3. The Crow’s main source of food was bison, but they also hunted sheep.

4. They were a nomadic people, and had more horses than any other plains tribe.

5. Women held a significant role within the tribe.

6. The Crow were matrilineal, so the husband moved into the wife’s house upon marriage.

7. President Barack Obama was officially adopted into the Crow Nation.

8. When he visited the reservation during his campaign for the presidency of the United States.

9. The crowd cheered as Obama was escorted to the podium by his new parents.

10. For all the symbolism — members of the tribe wore colorful traditional clothing and feathered head-dresses

11. Only what was promised by the treaty obligations of their forebears was what the Crow desired.

Exercise 2 Discussion Questions for Comprehension

1. What is the true meaning of the Crow Indians’ name?

2. Provide possible reasons why the Crow waited so long before utilizing the coal deposits on the reservation.

3. Why do you think President Obama chose the Crow tribe to visit?

4. What made the Crow Nation adopt President Obama?

5. What was the name that the Crow people gave President Obama?

6. What are some things that the Crow Indians said that they wanted?

Exercise 3 Writing Activities

1. Write an essay in which you describe the pros and cons (if any) of President Obama’s visit to Crow Reservation, while he was campaigning for president.

2. Write an essay in which you explain (your thoughts) why the American Indians have been treated unfairly in this country.

Sources:

Wikipedia

St. Labre Indian School

Crow website

Crow Myth: Coyote Creates the Earth

Pre-Reading: Questions for Reflection and Discussion

Over the years, people of all different cultures have made up their own theories as to how the world was created. The following myth from the Crow tells how they think the world was created.

Before reading the story, think for a minute, and then answer the following questions:

1. Tell us what your personal belief is as to how the world was created.

2. Tell us any stories you may know from your country as to how the earth was created.

3. Draw a picture depicting how you think the earth was created.

Coyote Creates the Earth

Long ago there was no earth, only water. Coyote was floating around on a small raft. After awhile he met the ducks. They were the only other creatures there. “My brothers,” he said, “there is no one else around. It is no good to be alone like this. You must get some earth so I can make things right.”

He turned to the mallard and said, “Dive beneath this water and try to bring up some earth.” The mallard dived under the water. When he came up Coyote said, “What sort of luck did you have?” “I have brought some dirt,” he replied. And he had a little dirt between his webbed feet. Coyote took the mud and said “I will make this into the earth.” Looking at the ducks swimming around he said, “You will live in the ponds and streams. There you can multiply and build your nests.”

Coyote took the dirt in his hands and he started in the east. “I will make the earth large so we have plenty of room.” As he traveled along he spread the dirt around , going toward the west. Coyote and the ducks went for a walk. On the ground they saw some shining objects. When they got closer they saw that they were medicine stones, which would be good for healing powers. Coyote said, “There shall be stones like this every where.”

When they had gone on some ways, they saw a person standing near a hill. “Look” said Coyote, “there is a human being. He is one of the stars, but now he is down here standing on the ground. Let’s go look at him.” When they got closer, the star-person changed himself into a plant. There were no other plants around at that time. It was the first.

Coyote said, “From now on all people will have to take care of plants which will grow in the spring, and sleep when the snows cover the ground. It is the stars up above that have come down like this. They will take care of the people.”

After this, Coyote made mountains, hills, and trees. He saw there were no fish in the creek, so he put some there. This is the way he started the whole thing.

1. Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary Practice

Directions: Read the following paragraphs and  try to guess the meanings of the words from the story. Place an x  next to the correct meaning.

Paragraphs:

1. In some Native American tribes, the Shaman or (medicine man or woman) uses many different instruments in healing ceremonies. Sometimes a variety of herbs are also used. The herbs are heated up and the vapors are considered to be soothing for different ailments. At times, the person who is sick is advised to wash their clothes using a soap made from special herbs. Medicine stones are also sometimes used in these ceremonies, although the manner in which they are used varies from tribe to tribe.

medicine stones are used as:

a. __a way to cure illnesses

b. __instruments for cooking

c. __tools for washing clothes

2. The Native Americans value all animal life. Animals such as the Fox, Coyote, and Bear hold special places in Indian culture. Ducks are also very special to Native Americans. The Mallard is one of them.

A Mallard is:

a. __A type of Bear

b. __A member of the Coyote family

c. __A type of duck

3. Procreation or having children was, and still is, an important part of Native culture. Children are thought to be “blessings” from Heaven. There is a practical side to having children which is to have someone to carry on with the family traditions and values. This is why in most all Native American cultures, the advice given by the leaders of the tribes is to multiply, in order to insure that the cultures are continued.

From this reading the word multiply means:

a. __To work out math problems

b. __To give advice

c. __To have children

4. Long ago when the Native Americans began fishing and exploring other areas of land, they had to make something that could keep them afloat in the water. Because they did not have access to nails and hammers etc., they had to use materials and tools at hand. The people discovered that if they took logs and tied them together with buffalo or deer hide (which is very strong) they made a floating device known as a raft. Rafts are smaller than ships or boats, although some can be made pretty large to hold many people.

From this reading a raft is:

a. __A type of boat

b. __A type of airplane

c. __A type of tool

Teachers Guide and Answer Key

Note To Teachers:

The goal of this material is to raise students’ awareness of the American Indian people living in the United States today, and to encourage learners to view Native Indians as an integral part of American society. My hope is that students will see the native people of this country as workers, students, professionals, parents, and leaders of their communities.

Activities:

The construction of the exercises makes the reading material more of a communicative activity, and helps students to better understand the content. There are various pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading tasks for each reading selection. Although the majority of the exercises are suggested for group work, especially during class, students can complete the activities independently as homework assignments. At the following class meeting, their responses can be used as the basis for group discussions. The research activities can also be completed individually or as collaborative group projects. I offer some suggestions for some of the activities throughout the lessons.

Language Skills

The target skills for the lessons are primarily reading and speaking, however, tasks for writing, and research activities are also included. These exercises are intended for ESL students, but everyone can use them. Although the reading level is high-intermediate to advanced, teachers can modify the material as needed for their level of learners.

The Teachers’ guide offers suggestions for how to use this material.  Please feel free to email and let me know if there is anything more I can offer. Suggestions are welcome.

Questions for Discussion

Possible Responses

1. Tribal leader Old Coyote’s statement could be interpreted to mean the Crow Tribe  has been ignored in the past by the U.S. presidential candidates in the past, and finally someone was paying attention to them.

2.  In this instance this was Barak Obama when he was running for office of the Presidency.  To him Obama was showing respect to the People, and because of there was the strong possibility Obama would be President, the Crow knew he would not forget them,  and so  felt positive about the tribe’s future.

Exercise 1 Vocabulary Practice: Words in context.

1.  reside- verb. have one’s permanent home in a particular place : people who work in the city actually reside in neighboring towns.

2.  interpreters [interpreter] noun. a person who interprets, esp. one who translates speech orally.

3.  bison noun ( pl. same) a humpbacked shaggy-haired wild ox, native to North America and Europe.

4.  nomadic adj. [nomad] noun. a member of a people having no permanent abode, and who travel from place to place to find fresh pasture for their livestock.

5.  significant adj. 1 sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention; noteworthy : a significant increase in sales.

6. matrilineal- adj. of or based on kinship with the mother or the female line.

7. adopted [adopt] -verb. (adopt someone as) choose someone to receive special recognition : the Crow People adopted Obama into their Tribe.

8. campaign- noun. the organized actions that a political candidate undertakes in order to win an election.  his campaign to win the heart of the people.

9. podium- noun. a small platform on which a person may stand to be seen by an audience, as when making a speech or conducting an orchestra.

10. symbolism- noun. the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities : in China, symbolism in gardens achieved great subtlety.

11. obligations -noun. an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment. I have an obligation to look after her.

Exercise 2 Discussion Questions for Comprehension

1. The true meaning is“children of the large-beaked bird”.

2. Possibly the need for extra income as the tribe grew in size.

3. From his speech we can tell that Obama felt that not only the Crows, but the American Indian tribes in general had been neglected by the U.S. government. He also  felt that many treaties from the past made by the U.S. government had not been honored.

4. Possibly because they were grateful that he included them in his visits during his campaign.

5. President Obama was given the name Barack Black Eagle.

6. The article never expressly stated what the Crow tribe asked for. It does state, “They never asked for much, only what was promised by the treaty obligations of their forebears,”…

Exercise 3 Writing Activities

Students’ choice.

Crow Myth: Coyote Creates the Earth

Pre-Reading: Questions for Reflection and Discussion

Students’ choice. Try to encourage the drawing, students seem to really like drawing. Other options for drawing might be for students to draw what the first man or woman looked like. Or maybe a picture of the being who created the earth.

1. Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary Practice

1. a

2. c

3. c

4. a