3. Ethnobotany

(This is the Lesson Plan 3 for Carmelita Lamb’s curriculum unit, Tribal Legacies of Pathfinding.)

Grade Level: High School grade 9-10



Aligned with appropriate Common Core State Standards (grade level and content area)

CCS.English Language Arts>Science and Technical Subjects G 9-10

  • RST.9-10.2 “Determine the central ideas of conclusions of a text…”
  • RST.9-10.4 “Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain specific words and phrases…”
  • RST.9-10.9 “Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources…”

Students will

  • Research the flora and fauna described in the journals of Clark and make connections to the medicinal properties of certain plants that were important to tribal peoples along the Trail.
  • Develop journals of flora and fauna with drawings and Native names as well as names assigned by Lewis and Clark. These drawing will be incorporated into the timeline/diorama/geologic formation 3-dimensional project started in Teachings 1 & 2.
  • Listen to the story of the journey through the voices of tribal elders along the trail (Tent of Many Voices) and from these oral histories will write their own story from the perspective of a Native/non-Native youth (their own age).
  • Write a short skit that depicts key moments along the trail from the perspective of a Native youth.



  • What are the names of some common plants that were used for food? For medicine?
  • How were these plants represented in the primary documents (Lewis and Clark journal entries)?
  • What were the primary sources of animal protein along the Trail and describe the habitat of these creatures and their significance from a tribal perspective?



  • Digital research devices
  • Art materials for drawing plants and animals
  • Toothpicks or popsicle sticks with glue for displaying the flora and fauna at points along the timeline.



  • Visual
  • Tactile
  • Spatial
  • Linguistic
  • Multimodal

Refer to the Spiral Learning Map (Appendix A): includes explicit teaching strategies, specific questions, comments, and directions for use by teachers.



Students should be presented with multiple resources that are visually rich in the representation of the flora and fauna recorded in the journals of Lewis, Clark and others in the group who observed the vast richness of Nature’s diversity in the northwest. Students will be directed to the journal entries in order to develop a perspective from the view of the explorers as well as the Native interpretations of how the explorers behaved in their tribal homelands with respect to Nature.



Design modes tie back to the CCS defined in the Unit. Focused instruction will occur in the development of student skills in the botanical and zoological identification of plants and animals and their natural habitat and contribution to the survival of the Lewis and Clark expedition.



Students will be asked to delve into how the attitude toward Nature has changed since the time of the Corp of Discovery. Primary resource documents should provide evidence supporting their conceptual framework. How have the natural resources along the Trail changed in the 200+ years since the explorers were there? Why have these changes occurred and who is most affected by the changes?



This lesson is meant to bring forward the vast diversity of Nature along the Trail and how the natural resources have been challenged by mankind since the Corps of Discovery walked across the tribal homelands of the people living there. Students are encouraged to think critically about how the continued ecological practices of humankind may affect the survival of the planet. Extrapolation exercises would emphasize the startling pace at which the ecology along the Trail is changing.



  • Four Corners for linguistic learners
  • Choral Response for auditory learners (brain-based techniques)
  • Inside-Outside Circle for kinesthetic learners
  • Concept Maps for visual learners



  • Student proficiency in researching various sources to find examples of the species of flora and fauna found in the early 1800’s along the Trail.
  • Observe the various ways in which students choose to depict their collection of samples of flora and fauna on their timeline using native and scientific nomenclature as well as the significance of certain plants to healing and medicine in traditional cultures.



  • Students will gain a deeper understanding of the diversity of Nature along the Trail, the contributions of the flora and fauna to the survival of the expedition, the sharing of traditional knowledge with the explorers in order that they may be well and continue in their journey.
  • Students will write in their journals personal reflections regarding their findings. The journals may be either digital or analog and may include any number of design platforms (music, art, prose, film) to enrich their story.



Students continue to add their new found knowledge to the original timeline. Now incorporated will be researched flora and fauna depicted in multiple spatial dimensions.



Share general advice drawn from personal stories about collaborating with tribal communities, medicine people, berry gatherers, root diggers, harvesters of sage and cedar; particularly with elders and traditional cultural bearers often sought out to present in classes.