|How are we alike and different?|
Certain ways we live are universal. All people eat, wear clothes, and find shelters in order to survive. For most, dancing, singing, celebrating holidays, and passing along other traditions and beliefs are also common. Thus, even in our differences there are similarities. In this unit students celebrate the customs, cultures, traditions, and diversity of the people who make up this nation.
What Primary Sources Can Tell Us about Our Similarities and Differences
By examining the belongings of people from cultures other than their own, students will start to recognize similarities and differences among those surveyed.
Photograph of a 1910 Salish Girl
Salish Indian girl wearing costume and headdress
A photograph of a Salish girl appeared in the seventh volume of Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian, published in 20 volumes from 1907 to 1930. Curtis photographed Native Americans throughout western North America, from the Southwest along the Rio Grande, where he photographed Apaches, to the northwestern coast of Alaska, where he took pictures of Kotzebue. Curtis took the picture of the Salish girl in 1910 in the interior of the Pacific Northwest. Curtis often staged the photographs and portrayed cultural practices that were sometimes reenactments. Yet the pictured Native Americans willingly cooperated and were paid by Curtis. There is debate about the ethnographic importance of Curtis’s work. Most agree, however, that his photographs have a high aesthetic value.
American Indian teepees
On September 4, 1805, while seeking the shortest route over the Bitterroot Divide, members of the Lewis and Clark expedition were lucky to meet some Salish Native Americans. The Salish people were kind to the travelers, sharing their food and allowing them to purchase fresh horses. In September 2005, among other events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Salish held a reenactment and festival, still proud of the hospitality and kindness their people had shown Lewis, Clark, and their fellow explorers.
That meeting with members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, however, is just one incident in the long history of the Salish people. Today, members of this Native American tribe are working hard to preserve their heritage. Recently, in a former bowling alley, the Salish people started a language immersion school for preschoolers. In similar programs, Salish teens and adults are also learning the language of their ancestors in the hope of keeping it alive for future generations. Though this primary source photograph was taken years before this current revitalization effort began, it also shows the pride the Salish feel for their history and traditions.
Make a Venn Diagram of Cultural Similarities and Differences
1. Distribute a copy of the photograph of the Salish girl to each student. (This can also be found on page 14 of your Primary Sources Handbook.) Briefly explain to students that the girl in the photo is a member of the Salish tribe of Native Americans. Use questions like these to encourage a class discussion about the picture:
2. Now distribute to each student a copy of the photograph of the Chicago
girl wearing a Norwegian dress for a Norwegian
Independence Day celebration.
Tell students that the girl’s ancestors are from a country called Norway. Challenge a volunteer to find Norway on a classroom wall map.
3. Explain to students that May 17 is a special day for the people of Norway. It is Norwegian Independence Day, just as July 4 is Independence Day in the United States.
4. Have students turn to page 256 in their textbook. Review the way that a Venn diagram can be used to compare and contrast items. Draw a large Venn diagram on your classroom chalkboard. Label one circle “The Salish Girl.” Label the other circle “The Norwegian girl.” Challenge students to help you complete the Venn diagram by comparing and contrasting the way that the girls in each photograph look. If necessary, prompt students with questions like these:
5. To extend the activity, write each similarity and difference that students came up with on separate index cards. Distribute one to each student (or pair of students). With a piece of chalk, create a giant-sized Venn diagram out on your school playground. Label it as you did the one in your classroom. Challenge each student to stand in the appropriate area of the Venn diagram, depending on the card she or he is handed.
Additional Primary Sources
Image credits: a. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division: LC-USZ62-98071; b. © Creatas/PunchStock