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GBW Second-Graders Study Native Americans

Kincaid Youman, 8, learned that the Powhatan Tribe of the Woodlands Indians lived in long houses and wigwams and invented hammocks. But he wouldn't have wanted to live back then because "they had to do lots of work, like hunting and grinding corn."

A second-grader at Greenbriar West Elementary, students in his and in four other classes recently learned all about Native Americans. They also displayed their newfound knowledge in a special program for their parents and classmates, and Kincaid enjoyed it because he got to play the xylophone.

STUDENTS in teacher Carol Victain's, Marianne Sherman's, Cathy Munsterman's and Gayle Peterson's classes sang, danced and play instruments while sharing the information they'd learned. Besides the Eastern Woodlands Indians, they also studied the Sioux Tribe of the Plains Indians and the Hopi Tribe of the Southwestern Indians.

They made maps in the computer lab, drew the different regions where these tribes lived and added symbols to show teepees and buffalo. They also compared and contrasted these tribes' foods, clothing, shelters, occupations and methods of transportation.

Gabriel Ott, 7, said the Powhatan also invented toboggans, canoes and even early barbecues. He said the Hopi was a peaceful tribe and built its houses on top of mesas so the members could avoid enemies.

"When they saw them coming, they'd pull up the ladders to their houses," he said. "In the program, I said, 'Native Americans contributed animal names, foods and inventions."

Elaine Chun, 7, liked the Powhatan because Pocahontas was Chief Powhatan's daughter. "They rode in canoes, hunted for deer and planted corn, beans and squash," she said. "We made drawings of wigwams, long houses, corn growing and people shooting bows and arrows."

She enjoyed singing in the program and was pleased because, afterward, she and classmate Stephen Kim got to present roses to the music teachers, Laurie Barber and Bene Dodd.

Eight-year-old Alex Miller liked making wigwams out of fabric in art class. If she was transported back in time, she said she'd try to use a bow and arrow: "It would be very interesting." She also liked being a Pueblo Indian drummer in the program.

David Kim, 7, learned that the Sioux Indians lived in teepees and long houses and, in art, he made a long house out of yarn. He also discovered that "the Iroquois lived in big houses made of poles covered with tree bark. But teepees are covered with buffalo skin." If he lived back then, he said, he'd hunt buffalo.

However, Katie McGrath, 7, wasn't at all interested in living during those times because "you'd have to make all your own food out of stuff, and that would be tough. And their houses were made out of trees, and ours are bigger and harder and hold together better." In class, she colored a mask and a woodland scene "where we got to glue animals on."

Also 7, Aaron Geldert said the Plains Indians "could use anything out of the buffalo. They ate the meat and carved the bones into tools and toys. And they used the skin for blankets and teepees." He's glad he didn't live back then because "there were lots of wars and I'd miss computers."

AARON ALSO learned that "tribes like the Hopi and Zuni lived in villages in the hot, dry desert of the Southwestern U.S. They were part of a group of tribes called the Pueblo Indians."

Erica Wilder, 7, said Native American boys "went hunting for buffalo and bad people. They went in a canoe on the ponds. And the girls learned to make clothing, cook and build teepees." But that's not the life for her, said Erica, because "I would miss soda, computers, Game Boys, Tomagachis and having a real home."

Seven-year-old Jessica Stahle learned that the Zuni lived in New Mexico and Arizona. "The men hunted and the girls worked doing the planting," she said. "They lived in big apartment buildings made out of adobe." In class, she said, she liked making paper headbands decorated with Native American symbols and feathers.

Christy McLarty, 8, also learned that Pocahontas was in the Powhatan Tribe. "Her real name was Matilda," she said. "The English settlers kidnapped her and she learned English. She looked a lot different in English clothes, and John Rolf asked her to marry him."

Christy was a narrator in the program and said that "Pueblo houses were four or five stories high and had many rooms. To get inside, you climbed a ladder to a hole in the roof."

Also speaking was Stanley Skocki, 8. "The Plains tribes lived in the wide-open land of the heartland of America," he said. "The Hopi built houses out of clay called adobe and they had rainmakers so the crops would grow. And they had a rain and snake dance and actually ate snakes."

Sajan Ronvelwala, 8, liked the Sioux because "they made their own medicine. They used plants called herbs. And they used raw hides to fix bones. They also made pottery and hunted deer, rabbits and fish."

He said he thought it was neat how his teacher, Marianne Sherman, knew the Native American symbols. "I made the symbols for Indian, spirit buffalo, sun, man and woman and put them on my vest," said Sajan.

JOSHUA HATFIELD, 7, learned that Hopi means "playful and wise." He played the alto xylophone during the program and, he said, "I liked when it was my turn." He also researched the Hopi on the computer and enjoyed making a replica of a Woodland long house.

As for Aaron Farley, 8, his favorite tribe was the Powhatan "because of the way their language sounded. They got bark from the birch and oak trees to make their wigwams. But first, they prayed to a god in the tree to help them remove the bark because they didn't want the god to get mad."

Aaron said he wouldn't have liked living then because "they didn't have many clothes, and I wouldn't want to eat meat all the time. And I don't really like corn, beans and squash."

Manaswitha Edupalli, 7 1/2, especially liked the Hopi. "Their clothes were skirts cut up to their knees," she said. "In the computer lab, I learned their food is mainly corn, and I like corn a lot. They live on mesas and, when a baby is born, they take it to the top of the mesa. And when the sun shines on the baby, they give it a name."

Maria Kahn, 8, said the Sioux didn't have any water around them, so they had to travel by horse. "They wore headbands and, everytime they hunted an animal, they'd get one feather for a brave deed they did," she explained. In the program she and Manaswitha did a corn-grinding dance. But Maria's glad she didn't live then, she said, because "I wouldn't want to cook and garden; I'd want to go outside and go to school."