Case study 1: Was westward expansion good for people?
Students studied how the exploration of the west in the early 1800s led to the expansion of the U.S. territory and identified both positive and negative impacts of the resulting confluence of cultures with particular focus on the indigenous peoples of Idaho. In fieldwork to Lewiston and Lapwai, Idaho, students met two historically and socially important canoes. First they met Mato Chante, which was built to retrace Lewis and Clark's journey for the bicentennial celebration of the Corps of Discovery in 2005. Next, they met New Medicine, the first dugout canoe that the Nimi´ipuu people have made in over 100 years since colonization drastically changed the course of their lives and culture. Back in class they used all of their notes to prepare evidence-based arguments and engaged in a rich History Talk to respond to the intentionally provocative question “Was westward expansion good for people?”
“Our project matters because we went back in history and talked about what actually did happen and what should have happened.” -fourth-grade student
"A canoe has a huge historical purpose to Native Americans and was taken away from them by white settlers. They had many different looks and uses. I now have a deep understanding of why canoes are made and what they mean. -fourth-grade student
"A canoe is a sacred piece of art and hard work that many Native Americans had lost and now are bringing back. Canoes are culture that needs to be preserved." -fourth-grade student
Case study 2: What is culture? How do stories reveal culture?
Students discovered the power of storytelling to understand culture. They explored the meaning of “culture” by defining their own personal values, analyzing how our EL design principles help us shape our school culture, and learning about indigenous cultures directly from experts, including Nez Perce, Kalispell, Shoshone-Bannock, Oglala Lakota, and San Carlos Apache people. Next, students analyzed picture books to identify the structure of a story and how stories can reveal elements of culture. They then learned the art of oral storytelling from expert storytellers. They practiced telling stories from the indigenous peoples of Idaho and the Northwest region. Then we started to look inward to analyze how our own stories can reveal our own family values and culture. Each student wrote a monologue with themselves as the main character in metaphor of an animal that symbolizes their values, similar to indigenous storytelling. In April, ten local actors performed their monologues for them on stage at the Moscow High School. Then students interviewed family members about their family values and culture and wrote stories using their animal characters and with their “family motto” as the theme. They practiced telling their own stories using the five main characteristics of oral storytelling taught by our experts.
Case study 3: What is the meaning of our canoe?
As part of this standards-based expedition, the fourth-grade crew hand-carved cedar paddles and built a David Thompson-style cedar plank canoe, which was traditionally built incorporating both European and Indigenous forms and techniques. Visitors from the regional traditional canoe families Nimi´ipuu, Kalispell, Shoshone-Bannock, Oglala Lakota, and Colville Confederated Tribes joined PPCS students in the canoe-building and classroom learning process throughout the semester. Their canoe and paddles symbolize these students’ understanding of our history full of both pain and joy, and their hopes for the future confluence of cultures throughout the Pacific Northwest region and beyond.
What is the meaning of our canoe?
The crew reflected on this question throughout the expedition in order to consider the historical, cultural, spiritual, and emotional meaning of our canoe. They concluded that this canoe is a way to bring back respect to Native Americans and their culture, and a symbol of our unity working together as a crew. Students decided to paint the canoe with a medicine wheel to symbolize the true meaning of the confluence of cultures – peoples of different race and culture are all bound by the same Sun, Moon, Earth and Stars, and although we have had encounters of both war and peace, we seek harmony as we flow together on this land we share.
"We named our canoe "Blooming Culture" because when a flower blooms it opens up. This expedition and canoe project is opening up the meaning of culture and the truth about the confluence of cultures in the past." -fourth-grade student
"We have been learning about the Nimi´ipuu and indigenous peoples of idaho, what they did in the past and their history. The message of our canoe is to bring back culture like a flower blooming. A flower is like culture. It never disappeared. It just got hidden from the outside world. It’s like a flower that dies, but the seed is still there, it just needs to rebloom. Culture never died, but it now being seen." -fourth-grade student
"Our canoe also represents how some of us have discovered our own values and more about our own cultures in this expedition." -fourth-grade student
"A canoe is a representation of culture. Today it is a way of life for the native peoples to regain their culture and show that they still live here. This project has changed my view of a canoe from just a boat to a major impact in the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples." -Fourth-grade student
Colville and Kalispel friends, Patty and Loren, perform a naming ceremony to welcome "Blooming Culture" and the crew into the region's growing traditional canoe family.
Patty smudges "Blooming Culture" with cedar, juniper and sage as we wish for the safety and comfort of all who join in her journeys.
The fourth-grade crew carries "Blooming Culture" to the water for the first time, ready for their First Journey together.
"My son is now able to really see the humanity in the struggles that the Nez Perce and other indigenous peoples have experienced. I think it's very valuable to understand how they were treated and to see their human experience and the lasting impact and to empathize with it." -Parent
"A canoe is a representation of culture. Today it is a way of life for the native peoples to regain their culture and show that they still live here. This project has changed my view of a canoe from just a boat to a major impact in the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples." - Fourth-grade student
"A canoe means respect. When we paddle it we are respecting past and present cultures." - Fourth-grade student