Lesson Plan

Witch Dance of the Natchez Trace

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Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Subject:
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes

Objective

The purpose of this lesson plan is to have students learn about the Natchez Trace and how it was used by the Native American tribes before the Indian Removal Act. Also, for students to learn Native American legends about witches, the different religious beliefs between the different tribes, and the myths about people being accused of sorcerers or witches.

Background

For the complete lesson plan, please email natr_education@nps.gov or call 1-800-305-7417. Please indicate whether or not you need an accessible lesson plan.

The Natchez Trace was used for trade for Europeans and Native Americans. One important site along the Natchez Trace was the Witch Dance. The Native American tribe that first lived in the area were the Hopewell Indians. The legends involving the Witch Dance are originated from the Hopewell tribe. The Hopewell Indians were almost completely wiped out so the surviving people joined other tribes including the Choctaws and Chickasaws.

This lesson focuses on the Native American influence along the Natchez Trace as well as the beliefs and superstitions the Native American tribes had about witches. The Choctaw’s believed the sole aim of a witch was to bring chaos and death to the people around them. They also believed that witches were not human beings but creatures of the night. This lesson also provides oral stories from some of the Native American tribes that have been passed down for generations.  

Preparation

To prepare for this course, the teacher will need to complete a PowerPoint presentation containing all information needed for the class. Also the instructor will need to pass out an itinerary of what will be discussed each class time. The teacher will also need to give the students the required textbooks that pertain to the class as well as the reading material they will need for their extra readings.

Lesson Hook/Preview

The Witch Dance is full of stories of bandits, witches, and mysterious deaths but there is
underlying information that is unfortunately left untold.

Procedure

1)  The history of the Natchez Trace involving trade, relations with Native American tribes, and some of the historical sites.

2)  The Native American culture and influence along the Natchez Trace.

3)  The history of the Hopewell Indians that lived in the Witch Dance area before European contact.

4)  The legends of the Witch Dance and how they relate to Native American myths and superstitions.

5)  The importance of oral legends, and storytelling, in Native American culture as well as telling specific oral legends by various Native American tribes.

Vocabulary

See Lesson Plan

Contact Information

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Last updated: January 8, 2018