Understanding Treaties in a Contemporary Context

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This lesson is inspired by the Treaty Education Outcomes and Indicators for grade 7.  The social media platform needed for this lesson is YouTube.  You can also do an extension of this lesson with FlipShare.  The topic of this lesson is talking circles that have widely been practiced by First Nations people for many years.

The outcome for this lesson is as follows: Examine oral tradition as a valid way of preserving accounts of what transpired and what was intended by entering into treaty.

The indicator for this lesson is as follows: Represent the ways oral tradition is used by diverse cultures, starting with First Nations.

The purpose of this lesson is for students to learn about the oral tradition of talking circles.  Talking circles are used to come to agreements and can be used for conflict-resolution.  Talking circles can be used from the ages of elementary children to elders.

Explain to students that they will be learning about talking circles.  Have any of the students heard of the talking circle before? Show students the following video found on YouTube of a young man sharing the meaning of talking circles:



Have students discuss what they learned from the video.  Hold a talking circle with students.  The only materials needed are a rock, stick or some sort of object.  Some people choose to smudge their rock as to cleanse it of any negative energy it may hold.

The rules of the talking circle can be orally discussed or written somewhere in the classroom:

1) The only person allowed to talk is the person holding the object.

2) Hold the object in your left hand as it is closest to your heart.  Teach students to speak from their heart.

3) If you do not have anything to say, you can simply pass the object onto the next person.

If you would like to videotape the talking circle you could do so.  You can edit the footage using FlipShare software.

Teach students that First Nations people believe in sharing knowledge through the oral tradition.  When First Nations people talk about the history of the treaties (such as Treaty 4), elders pass down their knowledge of the treaty signing through oral storytelling to younger generations.  It is important for the Canadian government to recognize oral histories as factual.


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