Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another Language Goes Extinct

Chief Marie, 89, of the Eyak tribe in Alaska, learned her native tongue from her parents, but the spread of English and competition from the Tlingit, another aboriginal tribe, meant that she was the last 'traditional' speaker. A survey backed by the US National Geographic Society found that Native American languages are some of the world's most endangered.

Every year more and more languages are gone forever as their last speakers pass away. I'm reminded of the gloomy prediction that half of all languages will disappear this century.

Some linguists argue that the birth and death of languages is a natural phenomenon that we shouldn't worry too much about. The global success of English, for example, has changed it forever. But it's hard not to mourn the loss of a language and all that it stands for.

Imagine not being able to speak ever again. What difficulties would you have?

What happens to a culture when their language is lost?

Why is preserving these languages important to the rest of us?

You don't have to travel all the way to Alaska to witness this disappearance.
Click here to learn about the efforts of the Miami Tribe to preserve their language.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Do You Believe In Ghosts?

The Native Americans believed. By the 1890s a new religious practice was being taught at all of the Sioux reservations called the 'Ghost Dance.' Big Foot's band, which consisted mostly of women who had lost their husbands and/or other male relatives in battles with Custer, Miles and Crook, would dance until they collapsed, hoping to guarantee the return of their dead warriors. All Indians who danced the Ghost Dance would be taken up into the air and suspended there while the new earth was being laid down burying the white men. The new soil would be covered with sweet grass, running water and trees; the great herds of buffalo and wild horses would return. Then the Indians would be replaced there, with the ghosts of their ancestors.

Did they succeed?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Send Me a Postcard

Check out these postcards from the Chicago Worlds fair of 1893 and then design one of your own on the paper given to you in class. Be sure to tell me all about the fun you had!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Labor Songs

A Ballad is a narrative composition in rhythmic verse suitable for singing. Originally ballads were not written down. They were a way to pass tradition and culture down from generation to generation; the music helped people to remember the story. The traditional ballad form has a few easily replicated characteristics that have made it a popular storytelling device for hundreds of years.

Listen to the ballad written about the Homestead Strike (1892) and read the lyrics.

What is the mood created by the lyrics of the song? (Possible answers might include pride, anger and determination)

What words might contribute to the mood of the song? (Have students select 3 words or phrases and discuss how each word/phrase contributes to the emotional impact of the lyrics. Possible answers might include shame, bum detectives, like thieves in the night, grasping corporations.)

What words could be used to predict tension and violence?

Read 'How to Write a Ballad" and then write your own labor song about the Railroad Strike of 1877, the Haymarket Affair, or the Pullman Strike. Be prepared to share your song in front of the class.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don't Want To Be An American Idiot

Most immigrants to the USA know more about our country than those who were born here! Sure you may know why we celebrate the 4th of July but can you pass the US Citizenship Test?

Evaluate this test. Is it fair? Too hard? Too easy?

If you were to write a question for the test what would you ask?

Is this test designed to exclude certain immigrants? How?

How were Chinese Immigrants excluded from our country over a century ago?