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TWO ANCESTRAL STORIES

[Resource code: FVLD_01]

LESSON OVERVIEW:
Telling your own story

In this lesson, students watch two Tsitsistas/Suhtai (Northern Cheyenne) digital stories and then create their own story. The Big Dipper (Tsèhésenèstsestotse) tells the story of the children who became the constellation. The Great Race conveys how people came to be by challenging the buffalo to a race.

 

Students will discuss the two stories and then plot a story that is of importance to their lives using music, art, writing, movement, or video. Depending on context, these may be Indigenous or non-Indigenous stories, from students’ own background and/or experience, or beyond.

As an introduction to this lesson, see the video below where Northern Cheyenne Knowledge-Keeper Ruthie Shoulderblade and Alaina Buffalo Spirit discuss the importance of storytelling to their culture.

KEY LESSON INFO

In this lesson, students watch two Tsitsistas/Suhtai (Northern Cheyenne) digital stories and then create their own story. The Big Dipper (Tsèhésenèstsestotse) tells the story of the children who became the constellation.

 

The Great Race conveys how people came to be by challenging the buffalo to a race.

Subjects covered:

  • Native American studies, specifically Tsitsistas/Suhtai (Northern Cheyenne) culture and language in Montana

  • Storytelling

  • Can be integrated into history, ELA (language arts), visual arts, music composition and sound design, choreography, dance, and film

 

Grade level: Grade 8 through college (can be adapted for other grade levels)

Duration: Two class periods or workshops of 60 minutes or more.  This can also be expanded to cover a longer duration.

Each digital story is roughly 9 minutes. Allow roughly 30 minutes for viewing the stories plus discussion, instruction, creation of student story scenes, sharing of scenes, and concluding discussion.

PREPARING FOR THE LESSON

There are two options: educators may screen both stories and ask students to compare them or consider them together. Alternatively, each story can be screened and studied as separate lessons.

 

Ensure you have the video, sound, and internet connectivity for all students to view the stories below. If you feel connectivity might be an issue in the classroom, contact First Voices (info@threshdance.org) to request a download option, which you can do in advance of the class. Click here for a troubleshooting video.

DOWNLOAD LESSON PLAN

THE STORIES

BigDipperThumb.webp
bear thumb.webp

Tsèhésenèstsestotse (The Big Dipper) is narrated by two Northern Cheyenne Elders with elements of music, visual art, choreography, and dance.

The Great Race is depicted by Lame Deer High School students in their own words using the same elements.​

ADDITIONAL VIDEOS

The videos below provide additional context for your students around storytelling in general and these stories in particular—and their importance to the Tsitsistas/Suhtai (Northern Cheyenne) people. You may want to show and discuss them in class. 

More videos, including from the artists and students who created these videos are available on our Behind the Scenes page. Further general resources are available here.

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