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Teach Native American Literature 

If you are interested in integrating Soje stories into a formal learning setting, consider these assignments or exercises.  If you are not a teacher, but are still interested in life lessons or simply want to fire your own imagination and creativity, there is something here for you too. Whatever the case, Soje Publishing would be interested in the outcome of your selected exercise. At the end of the possible assignments, you will find actual work done from these reading selections under the heading: SAMPLES OF CREATIVE AND ACADEMIC WORK DONE FROM ABOVE READINGS.

 

Academic Exercises/Assignments

“Susie” – Part 2, from Vows

Option 1

If we say life is about relationships, how is this implicit in this reading?  Just be thoughtful. Simply prepare an evidence sheet, using only quotes from the text.    When complete, put aside for a day or two.  Later, decide if you would strike out anything not pointing to life as relationships.

Option 2

Consider how knowledge is gathered to explore ideas presented in this particular reading and then consider how knowledge is gathered to explore the same ideas in our individual life experiences.  How are our stores of knowledge limited in both cases?  Try answering this in 500 words. 

“Red Woman – An Autobiography”

Option 1

Most native (indigenous) people of North America identify with a band or clan inside their cultural groups. Such associations are lived in order to learn them and they have long life (over centuries).  Furthermore, such affiliations are not chosen by an individual and are not random.  In this reading, circle any words or phrases pertaining to clan longevity and consciousness.  Use this to imagine other ways of successfully storing and transmitting that kind of awareness without relying on writing or modern technology for at least a period of three hundred years into the future.

Option 2

If you were to prepare an auto-ethnography, how would you begin to break this task down? What would guide you if you had no academic/technical support? 

“Concrete Corner… “

Option 1

In this reading, we will explore silence as of a path of knowledge in indigenous life.  Notice, in careful examination of the text, there are only a couple of places where silence or stillness is mentioned, yet the whole work is sustained by stretches of silence in the narration.  What is behind the inclusion of silence and stillness as a vital element in this work?  What is the impetus for including it?  Work this out for yourself in a visual way to understand it more clearly.

Option 2

Though we have many resources to use, no one has a perfect preset plan for living.  Our perceptions of life change daily though each day we draw conclusions about life from previous days.  There is a dichotomy and irony here.  Explain this problem to yourself first.  After reading the text, consider perceptions you hold of life and conclusions you hold about these perceptions.  What are their benefits and drawbacks?

Video - "Chagre Wakan"

Option 1

"Chagre" refers to shield.  Implied in this is that it is of buffalo hide.  "Wakan" is holy.  Within these two words are many other connotations from the Otoe-Missourian and the Siouan perspective.  What might these connotations be?

Option 2

If we were exploring language associations, the term "wakan"or a variation is found through the Americas.  It is spelled differently and read as "huaca."  The Otoe-Missourian word is not new; it has been used for millennia.  Besides meaning "holy," it is the name for snake.  This parallels many Siouan languages in pronunciation, meaning, and symbolism.  Think about the possibilities of how this came to be.

Video - "Mother Earth and Father Sky: Teachings"

Option 1

This film uses Navajo or Dine language.  The storyteller is a fluent speaker.  All the teachings or philosophy contained here first appeared in the language and there are unique associations among the language, the philosophy, and the storyteller.  What might those associations be?

Option 2

Knowledge as it is expressed and demonstrated in this film is gained through something other than memorization and summary.  Nor is this knowledge "pan-Indian," if that term is still in use.  What is it about knowledge that makes us want to "own" it without processing ideas and their stores by our own intelligence?  Reflect upon this and produce a tangible response.

"Crane's Track"

Option 1

Think about the traits of the main character.  If you had to respond to this reading without writing about the character, what creative project would you do?

Option 2

 

Symbols are prevalent in the story.  In native communities, symbols are not static; they move.  Explore this idea.

"Step-Father"

Option 1

When we read or stories such as this, we usually want to ask, "Why are people like this?  Why is life like this?  All tribal communities answer this kind of question.  Find a wise person in the community willing to talk about this.  Visit that person and follow tribal protocols for learning about parental and other kinds of abusive behavior.

Option 2

Men and women roles vary in communities.  Notions of "power" also vary.  How are instances such as the one reflected upon in the story handled when brought into the open?  Do you know this by experience or conjecture?

"Jolt"

Option 1

Sometimes we become disassociated with our communities, through no fault of our own.  When we do, how does this manifest in our lives?  Tell your own story of a character who has become disconnected to his or her community.

Option 2

What would you say is the message of this story?  Explain how you arrived at that conclusion.

Life Learning Exercises

Option 1

Pick any text and prepare a creative response to it, using any of the following:  photography, drawing, painting, poetry, or script writing.   Do not focus on analysis, criticism, summary or retelling.  Rather, show that you “heard” the entirety of what was expressed and the point of it.  Be true to content and tone.   When your response is complete, let it sit for one week before rereading the selected work.  Then examine what you composed and what you learned about yourself.

Option 2

Pick any text.  Read it carefully and notice how daily life is being observed and in that close up observation, something happens to time.  To understand this idea better, try going outside and observing something in nature, an animal or plant, face to face.  Really observe, just observe.  What happens? 

 

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