Canku Ota logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


September 22, 2001 - Issue 45


pictograph divider


CCMS Students Learn about Indian Ancestry: A Link to the Past


 by Melony Leazer Kentucky New Era

Students in Sherie Buchanan's class at Christian County Middle School knew they had some Native American heritage.

But as soon as the pupils began constructing various Indian projects, they began to better understand their ancestry and own links to the past.

"All the children have Native American lineage," said the teacher, herself of Native American descent. "They are having a ball learning the culture and finding out that the past is theirs."

Thanks to a $1,000 grant awarded in May from Meritor Suspension Systems in Hopkinsville, Buchanan was able to implement her project, "Native Americans -- Their Ways, Our Ways, Linking the Culture of Both," for her students.

Fourth­ and fifth­grade teachers at Indian Hills Elementary School also received $1,000 from Meritor to purchase a digital copier and laser printer to use with the Accelerated Math program.

The Indian projects take on special meaning this week.

Several of Buchanan's students are participating in the 14th annual Trail of Tears Intertribal Indian Powwow this weekend. Buchanan said a few of their items would be displayed at the powwow at the Trail of Tears Commemorative Park off East Ninth Street.

"We had the summer to do a whole lot of planning," Buchanan noted. "I have told them that if it takes you all year to do these projects, that's fine. But there are some things they have completed."

Perhaps one of the invaluable lessons her students have learned is how accessible resources are, just outside their classroom.

"They were amazed to learn that the Indians used things around them to make clothes, decorations, just about anything," Buchanan explained. "I think that has been the biggest lesson for them."

Pine needle basketry, for example, is a simple craft that also is the least expensive to do.

"They went outside and collected pine needles," said Buchanan, sitting at a table flooded with many bags of pine needles. "Basket weaving is what Indians did when there was nothing else to do. They found other ways to be productive."

"It's not that hard to do," said Brandon Santiago, an eighth­grade student, illustrating the technique. "I've liked seeing what I could do."

The students also collected cat tail plants to make decorative wall mats, which were even used by Indians to hang in their dwellings. And they also discovered that Native Americans used various berries as color dyes.

More elaborate items will be designed and made as the school year progresses, Buchanan noted.

Plans also are in the works to produce an instructional videotape in the near future, showing step­by­step details on how to make Indian jewelry, clothing, foods and other specialties. The tapes then would be shared with other schools.

"You can use these lessons in any classroom setting, and it's entertaining for children of all ages," she said.

The instructions also would be explained by her students and Carolyn Keefe, an instructional aide.

The annual powwow is an awakening for today's youth because Native American culture has a tremendous impact on everyone, Buchanan said.

"The study of their lives goes across cultural, intellectual barriers, as well as to any classroom," she said. "I think I have taught that to them, and they are understanding more and more every day that our pasts connect us."

Instructions for Pine Needle Baskets

pictograph divider



pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


Canku Ota logo


Canku Ota logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.