Native American Music lesson plans
The Strength of Native American Music
The following lesson is designed to be used after viewing all or part of Episode Four of American Roots Music. The video segment used in this lesson deals with how Native American music was repressed as part of an effort to "convert" Native Americans to Anglo U.S. culture. It documents the resurgence of various forms of Native American music, as new forms of music flower among various tribes and are performed at inter-tribal pow-wow gatherings. This lesson is appropriate for high school Music or Social Studies classes.
Students will be able to:
Analyze and discuss the relationship between music, culture and history.
Identify and discuss how music can be a tool for cultural survival.
Understand the role of music in the preservation of Native American culture.
One 40-60 minute class period
Content Standard #9
- Students identify sources of American music genres (e.g., swing, Broadway musical, blues) trace the evolution of those genres, and cite well-known musicians associated with them
- Students identify various roles (e.g., entertainer, teacher, transmitter of cultural tradition) that musicians perform, cite representative individuals who have functioned in each role, and describe their activities and achievements
- Understand the relationship between music and history and culture (Music).
ResourcesEpisode Four of American Roots Music
To prepare for the lesson, teachers may want to learn more about Native American culture by visiting:
Before viewing, ask students the following questions:Can you identify certain kinds of music that can be considered dangerous? What is dangerous about music? What kind of music is associated with your cultural group? Imagine if you were told you would be severely punished if you listened to the music associated with your cultural group. What would you miss by not being able to hear or sing this music? Why is the music of a cultural group important to that group's cultural identity?
View segment of Episode Four of American Roots Music, beginning at 23:50, until 39:40.
After viewing, ask students the following questions:Why would the U.S. government want to keep Native Americans from singing their own songs and speaking their languages? Why is it no longer forbidden to sing Native American songs?