Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Tlingit and Some Salmon, Too!

We had one last week before our family vacation to Seattle and I decided to cover a few things beforehand that Maggie might see on our trip so that she would be familiar with it.  For those of you who don't know, Seattle was named after Chief Seattle (derived from the modern Duwamish spelling Si'ahl), a chief of the Duwamish tribe.  (Here is his picture.)  He is known for accommodating white settlers, hence the naming of this great city after him.  (See for more information on him.) 
 Chief Seattle was born on or near Blake Island, and one of the excursions we'll be taking on our trip is a tour cruise to Blake Island, now the home of Tillicum Village.  The cruise features a cultural Native American experience with a traditional salmon bake in a longhouse, and traditional storytelling and dancing.  We are very excited about it, but I wanted Maggie to have more information before we got there.

I have acquired some of these great Evan-Moor History Pockets, in particular this one, Native Americans, and decided it would be a perfect resource for teaching about the Northwest Native Americans.  (Also, it would be good practice for when we use History Pockets a lot throughout the year.)  The book doesn't feature the Duwamish tribe, but it does feature the Tlingit tribe, also of the Northwest, which has very similar practices and culture.  So, here is our venture into some Native American history!
First, we read the fact sheet inside the Evan-Moor book about the Tlingit tribe, then moved on to make our first History Pocket and label.  (Each tribe we learn about will get its own pocket, then all of them will be bound as a book.)
We then used what's called the "shelter stamp" to place that tribe onto our map.
 After reading about the Tlingit in the Evan-Moor book, we moved on to read A New True Book: The Tlingit by Alice Osinksi ...
... and this Tlingit tale, The Wave of Sea-Wolf by David Wisniewski.
(Here is a picture from that book, where we observed the canoes and the tribesmen wearing their Chilkat robes and potlatch hats.
We then read another Tlingit tale, How Raven Brought Light to People, retold by Ann Dixon.
And here is some artwork from that book, again showing the Chilkat robe and potlatch hat on this chief ...
 ... and on this one.
We continued our study by making this Potlatch Mask out of the Evan-Moor book.  First, we colored it.
 Once colored, we cut it out, adhered it onto black cardstock (which we trimmed as well), then, finally, we punched holes into the bottom and added pieces of raffia!
To illustrate some of the art of the Tlingit, I found this awesome "Paper Piecing Craft" at, using their whale template, different colors of construction paper (we used black, white, blue, green, red, and tan to simulate some of the colors the Tlingit used in their art), sharp scissors, and glue.  (You will also need a pencil for tracing.)
 First, cut out the template and trace it onto one of the pieces of construction paper.  Stack all of your paper (with the exception of your white piece which you will use in a bit), with the piece with the tracing on top, and cut out, so that you have several whales in several colors.
Trace one of your whales onto the white piece.  This will be your base.  Then, still stacked, carefully cut out chunks and sections from your colored whales, like a puzzle.
 Here are all of our sections.
 Then, using different colors, put together a whale onto the tracing on your white piece, like Maggie is doing here.  (This will give you a multi-colored whale to resemble Tlingit art.)
Once you have designed your whale with its multi-colored pieces, carefully glue down each piece onto the white paper.
(Once our whale was adhered, Maggie insisted it needed an eye!)
 And here it is ... our "Tlingit Whale Art!"  Looks great!  (This, too, will go in our History Pocket.)
For our next two activities, we used this, Hands-On Heritage: Native Americans Activity Book.
First, we researched some of the thing that would have been brought to a Tlingit potlatch.
Then, we had some of those items for a snack (popcorn, sunflower seeds, and herbal tea)!
 Snacking on some potlatch goodies!
The Tlingit lived in plank houses, but for our Tillicum Village excursion, we'll be eating salmon in a longhouse, so I borrowed this idea for a longhouse from the Hands-On Heritage: Native Americans Activity Book.  (I decided, however, to use plain construction paper instead of the suggested tagboard.  I used 2 long sheets of brown paper, scissors, glue, and some tape for reinforcing.)  For the first step (as you can see below), I cut an end off of one of the sheets of paper (about six inches wide) and folded the edges up, to serve as the floor/base of our longhouse.
 Then, with the remaining piece from that cut sheet, arch it so that the ends fit against your prepared base (like below) and adhere.
 For the end pieces of your longhouse, cut two arches from your remaining piece of construction paper, both slightly larger than the existing openings.  Then, like the picture from the activity book shows, using your scissors, cut out small notches, all along the edges of your arches.  (This will make them easier to adhere to the opening of your existing longhouse.)  Cut a doorway out of one of your two arches.
 Here is one of our arches (the back arch), adhered.
 And, here's Mags, adhering the front entrance on.  (In hindsight, we should have made some Native American designs onto our construction paper before cutting it.  That would have made it more interesting to look at.)
Here's our longhouse, now guarded!  :)
Next, we set out to learn more about totem poles by reading Totem Poles by Jennifer Frantz (a GREAT book!) ...
... and Carving a Totem Pole by Vickie Jensen.
 We then completed the totem pole flip book from our Evan-Moor book, which stacks different animals on top of one another to make a totem, but under each flap, we wrote which member of our family was like that particular animal and why.  (We had learned through our reading that different animals on totem poles represent different family members and stories about that family's history.)  Maggie said, "Daddy is the whale because he's strong and nice."  Sweet girl.
We then made the totem craft as seen at, using their template, colored pencils, a paper towel tube, scissors, and glue.  First, we read about each animal that would be on the totem, then colored them with our colored pencils.
 Once colored, they were cut out, glued, and adhered to our paper towel tube to make our very own miniature totem pole!
 And it's to scale with our longhouse!
 Once our study of totem poles was complete, we set out to learn more about salmon by reading Salmon by Deborah Hodge ...
... The Life Cycle of a Salmon by Lisa Trumbauer ...
... and Learning About Life Cycles: The Life Cycle of a Salmon by Ruth Thomson.
We then watched this great video of salmon swimming upstream and laying eggs!  (We hope to also see this on our visit to Seattle when we visit the Chittenden Fish Locks.  It's that time of year!)
And then we watched this cool video to see salmon eggs hatching!  (Maggie thought it was a hoot, with the funky music!)
After that, we read a couple of fictional tales with salmon:  The Old Man and the Bear by Wolfram Hanel ...
... and A Little Salmon for Witness by Vashanti Rahaman.
Once our reading was complete, we did this maze featuring a salmon, making his way upstream (out of our Mazes workbook) ...
... and got ready for more crafting!  I found this really neat "Upstream Salmon Art Project" at, using a bright orange piece of paper, a bright sky blue piece of paper (I used scrapbooking paper), a black marker(the site called for an oil pastel but I didn't have any), silver and gold metallic Sharpies (they're new!), a paintbrush, white paint, scissors, and glue.
 To start, we drew pictures of salmon on our orange piece of paper with the black marker.
 Next, we used our silver and gold metallic Sharpie markers (I just scooped them up this week and I love them!), and drew in flashy scales.  (The site called for silver and gold paints, but this worked just as well.)
 Oh, snazzy!
 Once our fish were done, we cut them out and set them aside to start our water scene.  For that, we swirled white paint all over our blue paper to look like foam, and once it was dry, glued our fish right onto it.
 Wow!  What a great result!  She was very proud of this project!  :)
Then, it was time for some more videos!  Here's one of the Tlingit Indian Salmon Dance!  She enjoyed this a lot.  (Notice their potlatch hats and Chilkat robes!)
 I think we're ready now for some exploring in Seattle!  See you soon and happy homeschooling!


  1. Rachel, I really enjoyed this lesson with all the Native American elements! So glad to see a totem pole craft included :) The artwork from the Northwest tribes is just beautiful. Hope you all are having a great time in Seattle, and I can't wait to hear all about it.

  2. Thanks, Mary Lee! We had a fabulous time! I'll be posting some pictures soon! :)