Native American Learning: Second graders learn about local tribes

On Nov 29th, the second graders received a special visit from Mr. Annawon Weeden, a descendant of three Native American tribes from the New England area. The kids started by learning some cool facts, such as how to say hello, and that Massachusetts means "Great Barren Hill Place" because of areas like Blue Hills in Dorchester. They also learned about different tribes such as the Mashpee Wampanoag, who called themselves "The People of the First Light", because Cape Cod was the first to see the sun on the East Coast. The Narragansett tribe, based in Rhode Island near Naragansett Bay, often fought and were disliked by the Wampanoag. Their most valuable resource and trade commodity was quahog shells, which could be made into jewelry. 

Annawon also told the children of the first arrival of the Pilgrims at Cape Cod aboard the Mayflower. Due to differences with the local Wampanoag, the Pilgrims eventually left to sail around the Cape and landed at Plymouth in 1621. The Native Americans sent Samoset and Squanto, who spoke English, to greet the Pilgrims and see if they were friendly. Later on, after having settled in to stay the Pilgrims decided to celebrate their first Thanksgiving. Annawon told the children the Pilgrims shot off rifles at this celebration, prompting the local tribes to bring their warriors in anticipation of a battle. When they arrived and realized their mistake, they joined in the celebration.

Annawon ended the day by telling the kids about different skills that boys and girls would learn. Boys would learn to fashion knives, to hunt, to skin animals such as beavers for their fur, and how to make bowls from wood. Girls would learn how to twine and dye plant fibers to make thread, and how to weave those threads to make belts and other items of clothing. One lucky boy and girl from each second grade class were selected to try on and model some items of clothing, and pieces were also passed around to feel and examine for their intricate handiwork. It was a very hands on and engaging enrichment for all the students.

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