Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Native Stories From Keepers of the Earth

Bruchac, Joseph (Author)
Caduto, Michael (Author)
Fadden, John Kahionhes (Illustrator)
Fifth House 1994. 146 pages
First published: 1991
ISBN: 9780920079768 (paperback)
Original language: English
Dewey: 398.2
Book type: Anthology
Book genre: Folklore

Text Elements:

multimodal, stance

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

The foreword explains, “Even the most fantastic story is rooted in our common experience; otherwise, it would have no meaning for us … it would not be a story.”

Clear, unadorned language relates tales from groups such as the Micmac of the Maritimes (“Koluscap and the Water Monster”), the Hopi of the Southwest (“Kokopilau, The Hump-Backed Flute Player”), the Tsimshian of the Pacific Northwest (“How Raven Made the Tides”), among others. Monochrome illustrations in fine pen line depict scenes, as well as spot drawings that feature visual motifs found among the different cultures.

Themes that emerge across these stories include the idea that worthy accomplishment requires effort and sacrifice (“Now it was turning the bare skin of his head all red, but he continued to fly,” from “How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun”), and that actions affect future generations, for better or worse: “left him standing there dazed, with his horns bent and his head pushed back into his shoulders. To this day all buffalo are still like that,” (from “Old Man Coyote and the Rock”).

An introduction discusses ways to approach the stories and the continuance of their oral origins. A map shows the different traditional territories of Native North America, circa 1600. An extensive glossary includes a pronunciation guide. Descriptions of each tribal nation represented in this collection complete this valuable resource: “that all things were as connected as parts of the pipe, they lived happily and well.”

  •  

    “The primary object of the story is the realization of wonder and delight.” Discuss the elements that contribute to a good story. Read the first story as a whole class, identifying the elements that contribute to the narrative flow.

  •  

    Choose one of your favourite stories and share it with a small group. Identify the elements that make it a good story and compare it with others in the collection.

  •  

    In small groups, compare these origin stories with others from around the world. Share the information with peers to create a class list of common elements of the genre.

  •  

    Read aloud the first poem: “Birdfoot’s Grampa.” What is the message? Why did the author put this one first? What does it tell you about what you might find in the rest of this anthology?

  •  

    In expert groups, read one of the stories. Complete an index card with notes to take back to your original group. Share information about what you learned.

  •  

    List (10) keywords from one of the stories. Use them to write a free verse poem that summarizes the main idea of the story. Share your poems in a circular storytelling activity.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Social Sciences