Lesson Plan

Witch Dance of the Natchez Trace

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Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Subject:
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes

Objective

• The purpose of this lesson plan is to inform students about storytelling in Native American culture as well as the influence the Native American tribes had on the Natchez Trace.
• The students will have extensive knowledge of Native American superstitions as well as the importance of storytelling.  They will know about the history of the Natchez Trace and the Native American religions. 
• The students will be able to distinguish between some of the Native American tribes.  They will know how

Background

The legend of the Witch Dance is that wherever a witch’s foot touched the ground, the grass would die and never grow back. The first inhabitants of the Witch Dance area were the Hopewell Indians. They later joined with the Choctaws and Chickasaws to survive.


This lesson will focus on the legends of the Witch Dance. The Native American culture that influenced the Witch Dance and how they relate to the superstitions the tribes had toward witches. The Choctaw’s have an oral myth about a witch who could turn herself into an owl. The skate’ne (an owl) is an oral myth by the Choctaw’s that was about a woman who wanted to bring chaos to the villages but was stopped by a wildcat. She escaped by turning herself into an owl.

Preparation

The teacher will need to get construction paper, scissors, and glue. The students will be making an animal on their construction paper as well as making up their own spooky story that relates to their animal. 

Materials

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Procedure

  1. The history of storytelling in Native American culture.
  2. The history of the Natchez Trace and how it relates to the Native American influence.
  3. Native American religion about witchcraft and their superstitions.
  4. The students will make any animal they choose and make up a story about that animal and share it with the class.  

Additional Resources

Akers, D. (2013). Culture and Customs of the Choctaw Indians. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood.

Carmondy, D., & Carmondy, J. (1993). Traditions of the Southwest. In Native American Religions: An Introduction (pp. 92-95). Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press.

Cushman, H. (1999). The Choctaws. In History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians (p. 198). Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press.

Lankford, G. E. (2011). Native American Legends of the Southeast: Tales from the Natchez, Caddo, Biloxi, Chickasaw, and Other Nations. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

Paper, J. D. (2007). Native North American Religious Traditions: Dancing for Life. Westport, Conn: Praeger

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