Grade: Elementary

#1637. Native American Play

Social Studies, level: Elementary
Posted Mon Mar 20 14:18:04 PST 2000 by Brian Beckenstein (
Igo School, Foxborough, MA
Materials Required: costumes
Concepts Taught: Drama -learn about Native Americans

Native American Play
by Brian Beckenstein


Welcome to our show.
We are going to take a journey back in time to learn more about the first people to live in America.

Long, long ago, nobody lived in America.
There were animals -huge mammoths,
big wildcats, bison -but no people at all.

Animals may have led the first people here. The animals wandered into America from the frozen North, and hunters came after them.

They crossed a Land Bridge that connected Asia with Alaska. After a while, the oceans rose and covered the land bridge.
The people who were in the Americas were separated from the rest of the world.
These people are known as Native Americans.

These first Americans were scattered all across the Americas. They lived in big groups called tribes. There were hundreds of different tribes in
America. Each one had its own language, its own way of life, and its own name.

For our show, we are going to take a closer look at the 5 regions of our country and the types of tribes that lived there. We will be exploring:
the Eastern Woodlands
the Plains
the Southwest
the Northwest and
the Arctic.

Arctic Region
Time Traveler

Guide: Welcome! I will be your guide.
To learn more about how Native Americans lived,
we will have to travel back in time.
Who will be our brave Time Traveler?

T.T: I will volunteer!!

Guide: Here is our Time Machine.

TT: Wow!

Guide: Before you go, I must warn you!
Once you go back in time,
you can only stay there for a short while.
If you stay too long,
you won't be able to come back.

TT: How will I know when it is time to come back?

Guide: You will hear a bell. When you hear it,
you have to go back in the Time Machine.
Do you still want to be our Time Traveler?

TT: Yes, this is gonna be cool!

Guide: Step inside and off you go! (bell rings)
(To the audience)
Boy, is he in for shock!
Where he's going it's cold, cold, cold!
Can you guess where he's going?
That's right - the Arctic.
Where Alaska and Canada are located.

TT : Boy, it's freezing! I see nothing but snow-covered land. Wait a minute. I see someone coming and they're wearing caribou skin.

Inuit: Welcome, we are the Inuits.
Won't you come out of the cold and join us in our home?
TT: What kind of home is that? It's made out of snow. Are you sure it will keep us warm?

Inuit: Oh, yes! It is called an igloo. It will keep you warm.
We enter through a tunnel that keeps the wind out and the heat in.

TT : Hey, it is warm in here. Boy am I hungry.

Inuit: Would you like something to eat?
Here is some fresh caribou we just hunted.

TT : Uh, this meat is kind of raw.

Inuit: That is how we like our meat.
That is why we are called Eskimos - it means
"eater of raw meat"

TT : How do you get your food?

Inuit: Well, we can't grow our own food in this snow.
We survive by fishing and hunting animals such as seals, caribou, polar bears, whales, and fish.
We use all parts of the animal - flesh to eat,
skin to make hides, and bones to make weapons.

TT: How do you get around this cold land?

Inuit: We rely on dog sleds. We call our dogs "huskies".
In the warmer weather we travel on the water in boats called kayaks.

TT : Warmer weather? Did you say warm?
When will it get warmer?

Inuit: Well, our winters last very long.
From September to June snow covers the land.

TT: What do you do when it does get warmer?
Wouldn't your snow house melt?

Inuit: Yes, it does. So in the spring, we make tents covered with caribou skin.

TT: What is that around your neck?

Inuit: This is a seal tooth necklace. We believe it gives
us power over the animals we hunt.

Guide: Oh Time Traveler, Oh Time Traveler!
(bell rings)

TT Well, thanks for showing me your land,
but I have to go now.

Inuit Before you go, please have a necklace.

TT - Thank you!

Great Plains Region

Guide: Let's choose a new Time Traveler.
I choose Charlie.
Now our Time Traveler is going to a land that is covered with grass and where the buffalo roam.
Any guesses? That's right -the Great Plains to
meet the Sioux.
Step inside my Time Machine. Off you go!

Soft Snow: Welcome, my name is Soft Snow.
I belong to the Sioux tribe.

TT: Wow, those are interesting tents!

Soft: We call them tipis. They are our homes.
They are made from buffalo skin.

TT: What interesting paintings.

Soft: They are called pictographs. Let me show you.
In the summer 2 chiefs go over the mountains
and hunt a deer. They have a celebration.

Chief: Welcome to our tribe.

TT: Wow, that is beautiful! What do you call it?

Chief: This is a headdress.
Each feather stands for a brave deed.
We wear it for battles and for ceremonies.
Today we are celebrating because the scouts found a
buffalo herd.
We will be moving very soon to follow the buffalo.

TT: Why do we have to leave?

Soft: Hunting buffalo is our way of life.
We are not farmers because we don't have time to harvest crops.
We are always following the buffalo.

Chief: The buffalo provides us with food.
We use all parts of the buffalo.
The skin to make our tipis and clothes.
Our moccasins are made from buffalo skin.
We use the bones as tools and weapons.
TT: Wow, it seems the buffalo are very important to you.

Soft: Yes, but we also rely on horses to help us hunt the
Horses also help us move our tipis.

TT: What do you call those? (points to dream catchers)

Chief: They are called Dream Catchers.
At night when you sleep,
the web catches the good dreams
and makes the bad ones vanish.

Guide: Oh Time Traveler, Oh Time Traveler
(bell rings)
TT: Oh, I have to go.

Chief: Here is a headdress to help you on your journey.

TT: Thank you!

Northwest Region

Guide: Let's choose a new Time Traveler.
I choose Vinny.
Now our Time Traveler is going to a land that is covered with tall cedar trees.
Any guesses?
That's right - the Northwest to meet the Haida.
Step inside and off you go!

Boy: Welcome to our tribe.

TT: This area has a lot of trees.

Boy: Yes, we use them to make our houses, canoes, baskets, and weapons.

TT: Wow, that's an interesting way to hold your baby.

Women: Yes. It is called a cradleboard.
All the women in our tribe take care of the babies.
Won't you help me gather wild berries,
fruits, nuts and seeds.

TT: Don't you grow your own food?

Woemen: We don't need to farm.
Our land provides us with plenty of food.

TT: Don't you hunt wild animals for meat?

Boy: The elk and moose are difficult to catch.
We mostly rely on fruits and vegetables and fish.
We sometimes use our canoes to hunt down whales.
But catching salmon is much easier.
We use traps to catch the salmon. We love salmon!

Women: The winters are hard so during the summer we gather fruits and vegetables and store them in our
Burden Baskets made from the bark of a tree.

TT: What is that big pole in front of your house?

Boy: That is called a Totem Pole.
It is our front door to the house.
The Totem Pole tells a story about our
family through carved pictures of animals.

Guide: Oh Time Traveler, Oh Time Traveler.
(bell rings)

TT: Oh, I have to go.

Women: Before you go, have one of our Burden Baskets
for your journey.

TT: Thank you!

Southwest Region
Guide = ___________________ Kachina Dancers
Time Traveler = ____________
Hopi Girl = _______________
Hopi Boy = _______________

Guide: Let's choose a new Time Traveler.
I choose Lindsay.
Now our Time Traveler is going to a land that
is hot and mostly desert. Any guesses?
That's right - the Southwest to meet the
Hopi people.
Step inside my time machine. Off you go!

TT: Boy, it sure is hot here. This land is like
a desert.
Wait a minute. I don't believe it!
I actually see a garden up ahead.

Girl: Welcome to our village.

TT: You have a beautiful garden.
How do you make it grow in this desert?

Boy: We dig ditches and canals that help store water
for the plants.

Girl: We are a peaceful people. We are farmers.
The women own the houses and land. We build the homes, cook, weave baskets, and make pottery.

Boy: The men at our village hunt, plant crops, weave clothes for the family, and perform most of the religious ceremonies.

TT: Your homes are spectacular!

Girl: They are made from adobe clay.
We call them pueblos.

TT: Why are they built on those flat mountains?

Boy: We call those flat mountains mesas.
We chose that area to help protect us from enemies.

TT: Where are the doors to your homes and why do you have these ladders?

Girl: We don't have front doors.
To enter our home you have to climb the ladders.

Boy: This helps protect us from enemies.
When enemies approach, we quickly pick up the ladders so they can't enter our homes.

TT: What do you eat?

Boy: Once in a while we will eat meat, but not too
often because there are not many animals in
the desert to hunt.

Girl: Most of the time we eat things made with corn.
Tonight we are having piki, it's a thin cornbread.
Would you like some?

TT: Thank you! It's delicious!

Girl: Tonight we are having a special ceremony.
We will be praying to the Kachina Gods.
(Kachina Dancers enter)

Kach: We honor the Kachina Gods.
We pray that they will bring us water.
Water is very important to us
because we live in the desert.
We need water to make our crops grow.
Oh Great Spirit, please let it rain!
(Kachina Dancers throw confetti)

(bell rings)

TT: Wow, what a wonderful celebration.
I'd like to stay, but I have to go!

Eastern Woodlands

Guide = Time Traveler =
Mohawk Girl = Mohawk Boy =

Guide: Let's choose a new Time Traveler. I choose Samantha.
Now our Time Traveler is going to a land that has many trees.
Here's a hint, it's where your home is located.
That's right - the Eastern Woodlands to meet the Mohawks.
Step inside my Time Machine. Off you go!

TT: Hey, this looks familiar -trees and grass.
Wow, look at that garden! There's corn, beans, and squash.

Girl: Welcome, my name is Beautiful Dawn.
I belong to the Mohawk tribe.
You look hungry. Would you like some food?

TT: Yes, please!

Girl : I will be helping my mother prepare
TT: What's that?

Girl: I boil corn and beans together.
It's delicious!

TT : Mmm. This corn tastes great!

Girl: Oh yes, corn is very special to us.
We use it for food. We use the corn husks to
make hammocks, mats, slippers and dolls.

Boy: Squawk, squawk.

TT: Who are you and what are you doing?

Boy: My name is birdwatcher.
I am trying to scare the crows away.
We don't want them eating any of our seeds.
One day I will be a great warrior and the birds
will fly when they see the sight of me!
My father is teaching me how to hunt.

TT: What do you hunt?

Boy: We hunt mostly deer. We use it for food.
We use deerskin for our clothing.

Girl: Come, Birdwatcher, the storytelling is about to begin!

Boy: Come to our house.

TT: Wow, this is a very large house! It's like a barn

Boy: It is called a long house.
It is made out of elm poles covered with thick
sheets of elm bark.

TT: Wow, there are a lot of people inside.
Is this your family?

Girl: We share our house with about ten other families.
There can be about 40 people living together in this house.
Shhh, the storytellers are about to start.

The Rabbit and the Turtle
Rabbit =
Turtle =

Story# Gather around and I will tell you a story about a rabbit and a turtle.
Everyone knows that rabbit is a great runner.
But he would boast and boast about how fast he was.

Rabbit: Look at me! I am the fastest animal here.
I'm number one!

Story#: This made the turtle, who we all know is not the fastest animal, very upset.

Turtle: Oh, that rabbit! He's always showing off.
I have a plan that will keep him quiet.
Oh Rabbit, oh Rabbit. I challenge you to a race.
We can race across four mountains.

Rabbit: (laughing) Oh, that is the funniest thing I
ever heard.
You, a turtle, outrun me!? You're on!
I will even give you a head start.

Turtle: Let us meet here tomorrow morning
and then we will race.

Story#: Rabbit dashed home. But turtle had other plans.
He sent for his family.
They all agreed to help turtle.
The next morning, all of the animals came to watch the race.
As planned, turtle was given a head start over
the first ridge.
Rabbit dashed over the first ridge and said...

Rabbit: I'll pass that turtle in no time at all.

Story#: But much to rabbit's surprise, he saw turtle going over the next ridge.
Rabbit raced over the second ridge and said...

Rabbit: Ah! I'll pass that old turtle this time!

Story#: But once again, rabbit saw turtle going over
the next ridge. So Rabbit raced over the
third ridge and said...

Rabbit: Ah! I'll pass that old turtle this time!
I just know it!

Story#: But as Rabbit came down the other side of
the ridge,he saw Turtle cross over the finish line!

Rabbit: I can't believe it! How could you win the race?

Turtle: It was an easy race. I asked my family to help me.
You see, we all look alike, so each one of us climbed a different ridge.

Story#: And that is how the turtle taught rabbit that it
is not a good thing to boast and brag.

TT: - Wow, what a great story! (bell rings)
Oh, I gotta go.

Guide: I call all Time Travelers.
What did you learn?

TT#1: I learned about the Inuit Tribe that lived in the cold Arctic region. They live in snow houses called igloos. They hunt caribou and use dog sleds to travel. In the summer they live in tents covered with caribou skin.
They use kayaks to travel on the water to
catch fish.
They gave me this seal tooth necklace.

TT#2: I traveled to the grassy Great Plains and met the Sioux tribe. They were always on the move because they hunted the buffalo.
They used all parts of the buffalo.
They lived in tipis made from buffalo hides.
They gave me this beautiful headdress.

TT#3: I traveled to the Northwest and met the Haida.
They built houses out of trees.
They made large Totem Poles that showed the family history.
They loved salmon!
They gathered fruits and vegetables in this
Burden Basket.

TT#4: I traveled to the Southwest and met the Hopi.
They are a peaceful people who were able to
farm thedeserts. They built clay houses
called pueblos.

TT#5: I traveled to the Eastern Woodlands and met the Mohawks. They live in large long houses.
They hunt animals and farm the land.
I heard a great story about a rabbit and a turtle.

Guide: Wow! Let's hear from others.

We learned that Native Americans across the country had different cultures and ways of life just like we do today. The Native Americans lived in and respected this land for a long time.

However, European Explorers started coming to this New World. Unfortunately, many Native Americans
lost their freedom and could not fight the powerful weapons the Europeans had brought with them.

The Europeans had also brought with them diseases that killed many of the natives. Many of the Native Americans were forced to live on reservations.
The people and land of the Americas would be forever changed.

Today, modern life is difficult for Native
Most Native Americans feel that they are living in two worlds: the world of their ancestors and
todays modern world.
Perhaps someday the two ways of living will not
be so different. More people are learning to
appreciate Native American ways.
They realize that the first Americans knew how
to enjoy their families and use the land wisely.

We hope you enjoyed our play.
Thanks for coming!

The End

written by Brian Beckenstein, 2nd grade teacher

Let me know how it went!