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January 16, 2015
by: Rachel Pekarek

Native American arts and legends captivate ESAA students

What can we learn from past use of Wisconsin’s natural resources to build a better future?That is the question that ESAA second and third graders are just beginning to ponder. For the first part of this question, students looked through a cultural lens to study Native Americans. The students read and listened to many Native American legends to learn about their beliefs and culture. The students began to understand the importance of nature, geography, animals, and natural resources through these legends.

For the past two weeks, second and third graders were given an amazing opportunity! Through a grant from Oneida Arts, Mark (Marin) Denning was able to come to ESAA to share his wealth of knowledge with the students and teachers. Mr. Denning is part of the Oneida/Menominee tribe. He is also a talented Native dancer and artist. He spent time in all three classes teaching students about tribes and clans, while focusing on the meaning behind the dances, symbols, stories, and art. Students connected what they had learned earlier to what Mr. Denning taught them, reinforcing how the Native American culture respects nature through their rituals.

For the next part of this project, second and third graders will begin to work on creating their own legends inspired by what they have learned about Wisconsin geography, natural resources, and the Native American perspective.

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