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                 MEDICINE WHEEL LEARNING ACTIVITIES

Wheel

Stephen Augustine

Nation

Mi’kmaq

Lesson Plan Grade Level

Junior (Grades 1-6)

Time Required

3 days

Traditional Teachings

Mi’kmaq Creation Story

Teacher Summary

The Mi’kmaq Creation Story includes seven levels of Creation originated by the Creator.  This story describes how life began for humans, animals and plants as a process of seven stages, or levels, of creation.  The sky represents the Giver of Life which created the earth (Level 1).  The Spirit of Essence represented by the Sun, together with the Earth, created life in the second level as the Giver of Shadows.  The shadows reflected the identities, characteristics and spirits of  ancestors.  The Shadows were the joining of earth, matter, and the blood of human life (Level 2).  Level 2 connected the spirit world to the physical world as human life became the centre.  Level 3 of creation was seen in the surface of the area of what is called Mother Earth.  The beat of a drum is the heartbeat of Mother Earth.  In Level 4 the first man was created, Glooskap, from a bolt of lightning that hit the earth with him lying in the direction of the rising sun with his feet facing the setting sun and arms outstretched  to the north and south.  With the bolt of lighting, the life force met with the leaves and plants and feathers, bones, stones and wood so that when lightning hit a second time Glooskap developed fingers and toes, and seven sacred parts to his head (eyes, ears, nose and mouth).  At the third bolt of lightning Glooskap was freed to walk and move about, giving thanks to Mother Earth and Grandfather Sun and the South, the West, the North and the East for his creation. Once returning to the east where he was created, Glooskap was visited by an eagle that told him that he would soon be joined by his family to help him understand his place in this world.  The eagle dropped a feather which Glooskap caught, giving him strength and serving as a symbol of the link between his people and the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth. In Level 5 Glooskap met his Grandmother who sat on a rock and taught him to respect her wisdom and knowledge about the stars, the wind, the seasons and the tides, the characteristics and the behaviour of the plants and animals and how to make food and clothing and shelter.  For their sustenance, Glooskap took the life of a marten, asking permission of the animal first, and giving thanks to the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth afterwards.  Then using the seven sparks from the bolts of lightning that created Glooskap and seven pieces of dry wood, cousin Whirwind was invited to create the Great Spirit Fire.  Grandmother and Glooskap feasted to celebrate Grandmother’s arrival into the world.  In Level 6 Glooskap met a young man who said he was Glooskap’s sister’s son, a creation of Whirlwind who passed through the ocean in the direction of the rising sun, causing foam to form and blow ashore.  This foam rolled in sand and picked up rocks and wood and feathers, eventually resting on sweet grass. With the help of the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth the nephew was created. The nephew offered vision to the future and came as a gift of the ancestors and a responsibility to Glooskap to guide, as the young turn to the old for direction in life.  And just as Glooskap took the life of the marten for survival, the nephew called upon the fish to give up their lives. Glooskap gave thanks, apologizing for taking the shadow of the fish and for taking elements of Mother Earth for their own survival. Again they feasted and continued to learn from Grandmother.  In the final level, 7, Glooskap’s mother appeared, coming first as a leaf on a tree that fell to the ground and collected dew.  The Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth made Glooskap’s mother from this dew to bring gifts to her children:  the colours of the world, understanding and love, so that her children would know how to share and care for one another.  Glooskap had his nephew gather food for a feast to celebrate the creation of Glooskap’s mother.  Glooskap was leader, respecting the teachings of the elders, the vision and strength of the young people and the gifts of the ancestors, and the teachings on how to rely on each other and to respect and care for one another.  In this way, they lived a good life.

Learner Objectives

Knowledge/Understanding:

  • To understand creation from a Mi’kmaq perspective
  • To reflect, deconstruct and evaluate the Mi’kmaq Creation Story

Inquiry/Values:

  • To provide theoretical aspects of the creative process to role playing
  • To explore characters and issues drawn from the Mi’kmaq Creation Story

Skills/Applications:

  • To develop proficiency in listening, speaking, writing, questioning and negotiating
  • To experience at first hand the roles of performer, audience, and playwright
  • To use non-verbal communication to portray character and define relationships among characters

Subject Strand Links

  • Language Arts
  • Dramatic Arts

Strategy

  1. Generate a discussion on where humans come from.  Introduce the concept that people have different ideas on where humans come from.  The Mi’kmaq, for instance, have a story about creation.  One of their elders, Stephen Augustine, has traditional teachings to share on what the Mi’kmaq believe about where they come from.
  2. View www.fourdirectionsteachings.com together as a class to:

a)      View elder video clip

b)      Listen to elder biography.

  1. Individually or in pairs have students listen to Stephen’s teaching, “The First Level of Creation.” Discuss the main points of Level 1 and make drawings on a flip chart or board to illustrate. Listen to “The Second Level of Creation,” and discuss and make illustrations.  Listen to “The Third Level of Creation,” and discuss and make illustrations.  Listen to “The Fourth Level of Creation,” and discuss and illustrate.   Listen to “The Fifth Level of Creation,” and discuss and illustrate. Listen to “The Sixth Level of Creation,” and discuss and illustrate.  And finally listen to “The Seventh Level of Creation,” discuss and illustrate.
  2. In groups, have students review the seven levels of creation as told by Stephen Augustine.  As they do so have them make notes in a chart to identify what each of the characters in the story said and did.  Have them try to describe what they imagine the characters would look like.  How would they conduct themselves?  How would they act towards each other? 
  3. Discuss the meaning of the story.  Why do the Mi’kmaq use the terms “Mother Earth” and “Grandfather Sun?”  How was Glooskap created?  What were they trying to give to Glooskap?  Why did Glooskap ask permission to kill the animals?  What did Glooskap do after killing the animals?  Why did he do this?  What did Grandmother teach him?  What did Glooskap learn from his mother? 
  4. As a class, make a master chart of all the ideas on the characters of the story, their looks, and their words.  Develop a script to tell the story from beginning to end and act it out in a drama production. Assign characters to play the roles of Glooskap, Grandfather Sun, The Giver of Life, Grandmother, Mother Earth, Whirlwind, and Glooskap’s mother and nephew.  Play a drum to represent the heartbeat of Mother Earth and/or play a Mi’kmaq song (see links below).  Invite parents to see the final production.

Optional Exercises:

  • The Mi’kmaq have many stories about Glooskap.  Invite a Mi’kmaq elder to the class to tell more stories about Glooskap, his twin brother, etc.
  • Reflect on the Mi’kmaq Creation Story in journals.  Explain what it says about how people should treat animals and plants and why.

Vocabulary

  • Creation
  • Level
  • Apologize
  • Permission

Materials Required

  • Flipchart
  • Costume materials
  • Drum

Evaluation

1.      Teacher evaluation of charts for completion and accuracy

2.      Teacher evaluation of script development participation

3.      Peer evaluation of role-playing creativity

Additional Resources

http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ks/5050_e.html A variety of phrases spoken aloud in Mi’kmaq.

http://www.ilhawaii.net/~stony/lore21.html Another version of the Mi’kmaq Creation Story http://www.mikmaqonline.org/  Online Mi’kmaq dictionary of words, song recordings, and children’s stories

http://www.native-languages.org/mikmaq.htm Extensive list of links to Mi’kmaq language resources, literature, history, and music recordings

http://www.stf.sk.ca/teaching_res/library/teach_mat_centre/tmc/e11279/e11279.htm A culturally-based  integrated curriculum unit on Mi’kmaq with lesson plans for Grades 4 – 6

http://www.collectionscanada.ca/settlement/kids/021013-2091-e.html Bibliography, games and lesson plans on various Aboriginal peoples including the Mi’kmaq

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