Thursday, January 26, 2012

Listening to Native Voices in English III

On Friday, January 13, 2012 Mrs. Lanphear’s English III class had the pleasure of hosting a guest speaker. Mr. Doyle Pipe On Head, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, came to Room 106 to speak with students about some of the oral traditions and customs of Native people. In the previous days students had been learning about archetypes and reading oral stories in a unit focusing on “Native Voices.”
            Mr. Pipe On Head expanded on the original purpose of the stories (to help explain and understand the natural world while teaching lessons about behavior), explained that Lakota was originally an oral, not a written, language (although now there is a developing Lakota font), and he shared how oral traditions support the idea that relationships are more valuable than material things. The stories often focus on courage, fortitude, generosity, and wisdom in daily life. Finally, Mr. Pipe On Head spoke about how people are now writing the oral stories down and how challenging that is due to the stories being “organized in terms of activity,” using verbs and adverbs. The visit aided classroom instruction, with Mr. Pipe On Head even sharing a myth explaining why some ducks have red eyes.
         The class is just beginning their semester-long course and is studying literature as a way to view American perspectives through various historical and cultural contexts.