(This is the abstract for Shana Brown (Yakama)’s teaching unit, “A Thousand Celilos: Tribal Place Names along the Lewis and Clark Trail.”)
The unit elevates local tribal literature, experience, and oral history to mentor text status, worthy of the rigor that the Common Core requires. One cannot merely dismiss the literature with a patronizing pat on the head as the “nice little folklore of a once proud people.” The literary and informational merits of the selections stand on their own.
In a five-week reading unit of study, students will develop nonfiction reading skills in the context of the ancestral Columbia River fishing grounds at Celilo Falls in relation to their own lives, knowledge, and presumptions about history. Students will practice and develop CCSS E/LA standards-based skills by comparing Lewis and Clark journal entries to a Umatilla interpretation of the same places, people, and events in order to identify bias and evaluate how perspective affects the interpretation of history. In doing so, students will successfully demonstrate their skills and knowledge about how history connects to the present and future by conducting local research projects and presenting their projects to a select audience.