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Native American Religious Beliefs and Practices
Submitted by Melissa Pineiro, North Brunswick Township High School

Core Questions addressed:

  1. How are religions created?
  2. How does religion influence the way people live?

Time Frame: 1 - 4 Days

Suggested Grade Level: Middle/High School

New Jersey Core Content Standards: 6.2, 6.3, 6.4

Instructional Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to identify the religious beliefs and practices of the Inuit Native Americans.
  2. Students will be able to identify the religious beliefs and practices of the Lakota Native Americans.
  3. Students will be able to identify the religious beliefs and practices of the Apache Native Americans.
  4. Students will be able to identify the religious beliefs and practices of the Navajo Native American.
  5. Students will be able to identify the religious beliefs and practices of the Iroquois Native Americans.
  6. Student will be able to find similarities and differences of the beliefs and practices of the Inuit, Lakota, Apache, Navajo, and Iroquois Native Americans.

Resource Materials:

  1. School Media Center of Computer Lab
  2. Student Handout
  3. Map of the United States
  4. Web sites that discuss Native American Spirituality

Strategies and Procedures:

  1. Discuss with students the various different Native American tribes that inhabited the Unites States prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
  2. Discuss examples that those tribes had in common.
  3. Discuss examples of differences that existed among those tribe.
  4. Discuss the Christian Religion and how there are numerous different groups that fall under the title of Christian.
  5. Discuss with students that even though there are several different Native Americans tribes existing that there are both similarities and differences in their religious beliefs.
  6. Split class into groups of five. Assign each student in the group one of the following Native American Tribes: Inuit, Lakota, Apache, Navajo, and Iroquois.
  7. Explain to students that they are going to attend a tribal meeting, the intent of which is to form a uniform Native American religion that the five tribes are going to follow. Each representative at the meeting must come with a detailed description of their tribes’ religious beliefs and practices, which is to be presented at the tribal meeting.
  8. Allow students fixed time to research their tribe’s religious beliefs and practices, and formulate the presentation.
  9. Have each group of five students assemble into their tribal meeting where each tribal representative will present the description of their tribe’s religious beliefs and practices. The other tribal representatives will take notes during each presentation (student handout), which will be used during the collective part of the tribal meeting.
  10. After the conclusion of each tribes’ presentation, all five tribal representatives will decide together which beliefs and practices of each religion should be included in the Universal Native American Religion that they are meeting to create. Once it has been decided which beliefs and practices will be included, the tribal meeting is then to create a Power Point Presentation that summarizes their newly created Native American religion.
  11. Each tribal meeting is then responsible for sharing their Power Point Presentation with the whole of the class.

Assessment:

  1. Evaluate individual tribes religious beliefs and practices.
  2. Evaluate student handout sheets.
  3. Evaluate each tribal meetings Power Point Presentation.
  4. Essay – Which beliefs and practices agreed upon in your tribal meeting do you think are the best? Which beliefs and practices do you think should have been left out? Which beliefs and practices that were excluded do you belief should have been included into your tribal meetings Universal Native American religion?


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