BUFFALO — The lives and cultures of Native Americans and their contributions to the birth and growth of America were the subject of a course of study for second-grade students at Buffalo Elementary School.
Teri Lawson’s second-grade class began their study of Native Americans near Thanksgiving and the role Native Americans played, not only in the first Thanksgiving but in the survival of the Plymouth colony.
“We talked about the first Americans, and their contributions to us when we first encountered them,” Lawson said Thursday. “We talked about how they helped us learn to live off the land and how to harvest the correct way. They were really fascinated about how the Native Americans planted corn, putting a fish in the hold with the seed as fertilizer.”
As part of their study, the students read two books on the first Thanksgiving and then moved on to study other Native American peoples. One of the books they read was about Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who served as guide and the Lemhi Shoshone woman who served as guide and interpreter for Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their transcontinental expedition — the first undertaken by the United States of America — to the Pacific Ocean.
Lawson said the course focused mainly on the the Sioux, Powhatan and Pueblo Native Americans.
“We learned how they lived and where they lived,” Lawson said. “We learned that they lived in different types of house. Some lived in tepees, some in what’s called longhouses, and some in adobes. We learned about how they hunted, how they would use the deer or buffalo they hunted for food, clothing and shelter.”
Lawson said the lesson also taught the student about what the settlers brought to the Native Americans.
“We learned about what the Americans contributed to the Native Americans,” Lawson said. “They contributed horses, clothing, pots and pans, and weapons.”
This is the second year the class has been taught in the second grade at Buffalo Elementary, and as part of the class the students build an item associated with Native Americans. Lawson said that last year it was a totem pole and this year it was a tepee. She said the student like dressing up in a Native American-style outfit made by a fellow teacher which is also used in the class.
“Betty Loyd, a teacher here made it and the children love to wear it,” Lawson said.
The course ended earlier this month and one of the final lessons was about the continued presence of Native Americans in American society.
“They learned that Native Americans still exist and dress like us,” Lawson said. “They learned that Native Americans today work as teachers, firefighters, doctors and in other professions and are still very much a part of America.”
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