| The students
will gain an understanding of the role that oral tradition plays
in First Nations culture.
a First Nations storyteller to share some of his or her
stories with the students or use audio recording of a storyteller
to introduce oral tradition to the students.
the purpose of oral tradition and define myth, legend, fable,
Nations Cultural Areas
will be able to identify the location of the various First Nations
the digital projector to teach students the locations of
each cultural area.
the geographical differences.
of Geographic Location
will be able to explain verbally how the geographic location
of a tribe influenced the transportation, shelter, food, and
way of life of the people.
groups are assigned different geographic locations and they
must research the transportation, shelter, food, and way
of life of the people who lived in that region. This is
to be done through examination of folklore from the assigned
oral presentations of findings.
Studies Language Arts
will dramatize an event that occurs in one of the pieces of
folklore they used in the research (done in activity 6) that
demonstrates a tribes particular way of life.
the same groups as above, students select a scene from one
of the books to dramatize for the class.
scene selected should demonstrate the way of life in that
the dramatizations and compare findings from different regions.
Activity 1: Oral Tradition
information provides a brief introduction to the role of oral
tradition in First Nations culture. For more information, you
may wish to refer to Donna E Norton’s Through the Eyes
of a Child. Prior to inviting a First Nations storyteller
(or using a recording of such) to your class discuss the following:
is oral tradition? Long before people ever recorded information
about their way of life in written form, they passed valuable
information about their culture, values, beliefs and ways of life
through the telling of stories. This is referred to as oral tradition.
role does oral tradition play in First Nations culture? Oral
tradition has been the means by which the First Nations culture,
and many other cultures, have survived throughout the years. Each
time the traditional tales of the First Nations people are shared,
the listeners learn something about the beliefs, values, culture
and the ways of life practiced by the First Nations people. This
is how cultural knowledge is passed on and shared with others.
Myths were told to help explain the creation of plant and animals
life, and to help explain natural phenomenon that otherwise could
not be explained. Trickster tales were told to teach lessons and
to entertain. Family drama tales and threshold tales were told
to help the listeners learn about the way of the tribe and the
First Nations way of life.
Who is the author of the folklore passed on through oral
tradition? Because the stories are told by many people
and passed down through generations there are no known authors
of these traditional tales. The lack of a known author makes these
tales different from literary tales that have been written by
Did the stories ever change?
Traditional tales were told by many different people and often
the same type of tales were told in different areas of North America.
The Supreme Court of Canada recognizes First Nations
"Oral Tradition" as important as written documents when
looking at legal issues. These stories DO NOT change.
The oral historians were very exact and this was passed on down
through generations. Many of the stories have not changed over
the years due to the exact nature of First Nations Oral Tradition.
(Susan Beaudin, Project Leader: Aboriginal Perspectives and Content
is the difference between a myth, legend, fable, and folktale?
Myths are narratives that are considered to be true to the people
in which the story was originally told. They take place long ago,
before and during the creation of the Earth and people. Myths
usually have non human characters as the main characters, like
the Creator or Great Spirit. Myths are sacred to the people.Legends
are also considered to be true. But, they take place in a world
that we would recognize, the Earth as we know it today. Unlike
myths, the main characters tend to be human and therefore legends
are usually secular instead of sacred.Unlike myths and legends,
fables are fiction. The main purpose of a fable is to teach a
lesson or a moral to the audience. The characters can be animals
or humans.Folktales are also considered to be untrue, and they
have human or non-human characters. Most of these stories take
place in symbolic settings (“Once upon a time …”
or “In the deep dark woods…”).
Do different cultural areas have different stories?
Yes. The First Nations people often had local tales that had been
created to explain the landscape, the seasons, or local events
(tornadoes, floods, etc). Although many tribes told similar stories
and the stories had similar themes or lessons in them, different
cultural areas have tales that belong exclusively to them. (Norton,1995)
Activity 2: Map of First Nations
can be divided into several different First Nations cultural areas.
Each area is distinct in its own way. As Waldman states, “since
the environment determines many lifeways, tribes within each division
share a significant number of cultural traits. The different geographic
regions therefore define and delineate cultural area” (p.30,
- Use the
digital projector to teach students the locations of each cultural
the geographical differences.
areas do not represent rigid boundaries – sometimes the
First Nation’s moved among different tribes and this movement
resulted in the passing on of cultural traits from one area to
map of Pre-Contact Cultural Areas
3: Influence of Geographic Location on Tribal Life
students into small groups.
2. Assign each group a geographic location.
3. Provide each group with literature from their assigned geographic
location. (Refer to the list of references at the end of the unit
for suggested literature suggestions).
4. The template
on the following page can be used by students to record information
from the books they are examining. The chart may look something
like the one started below.