C. Stevens

The Mikmaq invented hockey sticks. It is well known that non natives purchaced Micmac sticks from the mikmaq who lived in darthmoght and halifax early in our history.  One company took the sticks and mass produced them and changing the name to hockey sticks after the game.  

the first pictures are the classes harvesting the wood.  it is very simple you find a a tree with a natural bend on the bottom.   you cut it down and begin to cut it in the shape of a hockey stick.  the last few pictures are my own kids finihing off the Mic Mac stick at home for our culture class.  

The studnets prior to taking a feild trip to skating had lessons on how the Mikmaq invented hockey and how they made bone skates.  the skates were made from the femer bone of the moose and sharpned to points and laces attached to them.  

Mewisultipnik Mijua'jijk Kiskuk, kisi-tu'tip ajioqjiminey pitwey (The childeren harvested Black berrys and made Tradional Tea.  students were given lessson on the orgins of black berrys which came from euorpeans and the plant got naturlized in the new world.  The Mikmaq used the berrys for tea to treat stomach problems, diarrhea and to clean the blood.  Students were also given strict lessons about never to consume anytihgn with looks like berrys unless it is identified and with adult suppervision.  The term Mewisultionik (havrvesting berrys) was a way of life for young Mikmaq in durring summer months in the past (before european contact and after euorpean contact).  this was the primary responsiblty of childeren along with gathering firewood for the family.  Many of us in the our 40s remeber harvesting berrys all summer with parents or grand parents.  

The ESK students have been working on a school project all of September/October.  We have made a pin’jkan which is a traditional Mi’kmaq shelter.  The material was harvested by the students and constructed by the students.  The only man-made material we used was the twine used to secure the structure together. 

I have discovered that you cannot teach culture, you have to experience culture.  No one can not teach you to be Mi’kmaq or how to do Mi’kmaq things but rather you have to go out and just practice your culture in an active classroom room outside.   So twice a week we experience our culture.   An active classroom where you learn by doing and not by reading or listening.  We learn our culture is by doing.  

The students all had lesson on what the difference was between what a teepee is and its origins and what a Pijikan is.  A pijikan is a traditional Mikmaq shelter and it had a heated floor.  The floor was dug up and large stones placed inside.  The heat from the fire would heat the stones and retain the heat long after the fire went out.   

This project changed the student’s mindset significantly.  Much more than expected.  Once the basic frame of the shelter was finished the students began playing house inside the frame.  Only when asked if they were playing house they replied “no” we aren’t playing house were playing Lnu.  Lnu is what distinguishes Mikmaq as a people.  They were pretending to make primitive fire, preparing and skinning animals, and hunting animals and fish.  They also pretended to pay to the creator before having their fake meal.  This how concept is a breakthrough. Our students love their culture so much they pretend and play within their culture. 

In this lesson we teach the students about Dream Catchers.  We not only teach the students to make Dream Catchers but also make sure the students know where they came from and their meaning.  The Dream Catcher is the most commonly known symbol for first nation cultures.  It is also the most commercialized therefore may people do know where it comes from. 

In Ojibwe legend there was a spider woman (asibikaasi).  She took care of the Ojibwe and watched over them.  Soon the Ojibwe began to spread out over turtle island and it was impossible for the spider woman to protect all of them because there where stretched over the 4 corners of turtle island.  She called them back and made a hoop from twigs.  She than used her silk to weave a web inside the hoop. Her web was magical and would catch any bad spirts trying to pass through.  There would always be a hole in the center where good can pass through.  The spider woman instructed her people to hand them in their homes near an opening to protect them and keep them connected to her wherever they were. 

Materials - collect twigs and bend them and tie the ends or use paper plates and punch holes.  yarn, and art feathers. 

Lesson 5 (hoop dance) (any age group but the younger ones enjoy this the most)


This will require some work or previous knowledge that can be given before class from the home room teacher or the physical education teacher by assigning homework.  There is a couple of videos on you tube of very modern hoop dancing in a very modern setting and music.  It looks like a rock video and it appeals to a younger generation.  It is very relevant and meaningful for today's context of style.  


This is a link of the videos







Activity one (warm up)

The teacher will explain that they will be listening to pow wow music at that we are going to pow wow dance for our warm up.  The teacher will explain that there is no wrong moves just that we follow the beat of the music and keep moving for 3 minutes.  

Activity two

Background knowledge

The teacher will begin thwe class by starting to tell him about where the hoop dance came from   it came from the Anishinaabe culture which is a group of native americans that include  Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Oji-Cree, Mississaugas, Chippewa, and Algonquin peoples.   A boy named Pukawiss created the hoop dance. Unlike the other boys, Pukawiss did not show an interest in running, swimming or hunting. He only wanted to watch the animals. His fascination with things drove his father's interest away from him towards his brother  therefore leading to everyone calling him Pukawiss: the disowned or unwanted. Pukawiss learned so much about life in the movements of eagles, bears, snakes that taking their life would have been wrong. The animals had much to teach human beings about values and relationship like loyalty, kindness and friendship. He made hoops and studied the nature.  He mimicked nature's movements thought the use of his hoops.  Pukawiss taught his village about the animals by spinning like an eagle in flight or hopping through grass like rabbits or bouncing like a baby deer. He became a dancer. So many villages wanted him to teach them about the ways of the animals that he had became the respected person in the village.  


The teacher will tell the students that the purpose of the hoop dance is to mimic nature.  You can mimic a flower blooming or an eagle flying.  The dance is your interpretation of the natural world.  You can make the world (wksitqamuk) and give a demonstration by taken several hoops and putting them together and forming a globe. You can also show and example of an eagle.  The teacher cannot be hesitant because the students will pick up on their reluctance and not participate.  You have to shed any pride you have and entertaining and be a willing ethustic participate. What the students come up with will amaze you.  


Activity two (hoop dance)

The teacher will distribute hoops accordingly and start the music, the perfect song for this is from a tribe called red “electric pow wow” the students know it and it resonates with youth. The students will dance and try different moves through the course of the song.  After the song identify the moves they you found unique and encourage students to share.  If they say that they were mimic something in the wild ask them what it is in english and than ask the entire class if anyone knows it in mi'kmaq that way no child is put on the spot for trying to answer a question they may not know the answer to.  Once the name is shared ask all the students to repeat the word in english and mi'kmaq.


Materials - stereo, song called electric pow wow, small hoops

 in closing the students will be very imagative with this activity.  they will have fun and you will be impresed with what students come up with.  


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