A month ago as we were brainstorming ideas for our play. Ada shared a Chinook Creation Story that she had found while researching the Chinook Tribe. She brought it to the group and we acted out the different scenes during our Drama Workshop with Emily Stone.
Shortly after that, Ms. Hill visited from Washington County Historical Society shared about the culture of another local tribe, the Kalapuya. She told us about a local Kalapuyan storyteller, Esther Stutzman. The children were curious to hear the Kalapuyan Creation Story, so we searched for it online.
We found an audio version along with this recommendation...
After reading that and listening to her story, the children wondered if we needed to make sure the Chinook Creation Story we were using for our play was the correct version. The children decided to write a letter to the Chinook Tribe. Here is the letter that we wrote as a class...
March 10th, 2016
Dear Chinook Tribal Members,
Room 36 3rd Graders at OES in Portland, Oregon just learned that some native cultures feel that their stories are precious to them. We heard a story told by Kalapuyan storyteller, Esther Stutzman. She said that Kalapuyan stories are not called myths or legends, but called truths.
We wondered if the same is true for the Chinook.
We are writing a play about Oregon History. We don’t want to make any stereotypes or assumptions about your culture, but we’d like to have your permission to share some of your culture in our play. We have a few questions for you:
- What is the Chinook rule about passing on stories?
- What stories do your people want told about your culture?
- Are other people trying to hide your stories?
- Can we have your permission to tell one of your stories if we keep it exactly the same?
A member of our class stumbled upon a version of the Chinook Creation Story. We think this is a valuable story, do you? If you will give us your permission, which version would you like told?We are looking forward to hearing back from you soon.
Letter From Chinook Nation
The children felt honored to be given permission and worked diligently then to convey this message in the beginning of the writing of our scene. As their teacher, I was beyond thrilled that the children had used what we had learned about stereotypes an applied it to our research. One demonstration that children have learned something deeply, is when you see them apply it in a real life situation on their own. This sort of research and application embodied how they listened to the advice they had written at the end of the stereotype project:
Uma said, "You should always ask the tribe." Then Flynn added, "You have to be careful when you make an inference because it might not always be true!" Then Peter summed it up when he added, "Check your facts!"
Embedded in the link below is a quick video that shows how the children are beginning to incorporate these ideas into the beginning of our play.