Respect for Land

Keep up to date!

Want to keep current on the latest curriculum updates? Sign up now

Rate this Lesson

Tell us how this lesson worked in your classroom.


Subjects Image: 
Grades: K - 2nd Grade
Lesson: 3
Unit: 1: American Indian traditional land values
Subject: Arts
Additional Subject: Science
Achievement Goal: Describe how respect for the land can be demonstrated.
Time: One class period
Lesson Resources:

Lesson Description:

Building off of Lessons 1 and 2 in this unit, students learn about Native Americans’ stewardship of the land pertaining to fish and wildlife.

Teacher Background:

In Lessons 1 and 2 of this unit, basic traditional American Indian beliefs regarding people’s relationship with the natural world were presented through origin stories. In this lesson, students will examine how people show respect and care for the land. The students will demonstrate what they have learned from Lessons 1 and 2. They will investigate how American Indian organizations put those teachings into practice. The lesson will demonstrate how each student can care for the land and build a better community.

Many American Indian tribes across the country have a natural resources department in their tribal organizations. These departments preserve and protect tribal property, natural habitats, vegetation, waterways, lakes, dams and parks. These departments also enforce regulations and sell licenses for hunting and fishing. These departments care for fish and wildlife. They care for animal orphans such as deer, porcupines and raccoons. They stock lakes, rivers and streams with fish. Many Native American tribes also have a department devoted to environmental health or environmental protection. This department is responsible for enforcing regulations for a cleaner, healthier and safer environment on reservation lands.

Many tribes now have their own carefully controlled fish and wildlife populations, including animals such as antelope, deer, buffalo, elk and ferret. Regulations have been developed to control the populations of these animals. Many tribal colleges on American Indian reservations are educating the people about preserving the natural environment on their lands. 

Teacher Preparation Resources:
  • Gather maps, books, recordings, and magazines as suggested in the Lesson Resources section.
  • Contact a tribe’s natural resources department to arrange for a guest speaker. See Lesson Resources for a list of tribal contacts.
  • Preview Lesson 4, and have the tribal representative also speak to the environmental concerns outlined in that lesson, if applicable.
Student Activity:
  1. Display a map of the United States in the classroom that shows the location of American Indian tribes. Show the students where they are located on the U.S. map and show them where a few (other) reservations are located. (See the maps listed in the Lesson Resources section.)
  2. Read selected stories or play recordings listed in the Lesson Resources section to introduce American Indians’ relationship with animals. Explain the stories to the class and allow students to look at pictures from these stories.
  3. Request that an employee of a tribe’s natural resources department come speak to the children about their responsibilities as caretakers of the environment. Ask the representative to explain to the students how they can each be a responsible environmental steward.
  4. In class, display pictures of endangered animals. Have the tribe's natural resource representative speak to the students about why these animals are endangered and what is being done to protect these animals. Have the guest introduce the subject of "habitat."
  5. Research books and magazines with photos of a variety of fish, wildlife, natural vegetation, waterways and trees that are commonly seen in your region. Show the photos to students and explain what habitat is. Explain that all animals need certain habitats to survive. Show photos of young animals to demonstrate that young animals in particular need the right habitat to grow up strong and healthy.
  6. Discuss the value and use of different types of habitats. Ask the students if they have seen any of the pictured animals in their natural habitat. Have them explain where.
  7. Describe to the students what happens to fish, animals and birds if humans destroy their natural habitat. Where would the animals go to raise their young?
  8. Discuss with the class the importance of plant life. Respect for vegetation includes respect and caring for trees, bushes, plants, flowers and grasses. 
  1. Evaluate students’ understanding and knowledge of habitat for fish and wildlife based upon their participation in class discussions and activities.
  2. Assess the students’ grasp of humans’ role in providing care for fish and wildlife in their community.
Lesson Resources:
  • U.S. Census Maps of tribal lands:
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, A-Z List of Tribal contacts
  • Books and magazines with photos and pictures of fish, wildlife and habitat:
    • Bruchac, Jim. Northeastern Native American Animal Stories (Stories & Songs). Audio CD. Good Mind Records, 1998.
    • Bruchac, Joseph. Fox Song. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1993.
    • Bruchac, Joseph. The First Strawberries. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1993.
    • Bruchac, Joseph, Michael J. Caduto and John K. Fadden. Native American Animal Stories. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum, 1992. 
    • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Beaver Steals Fire: a Salish Coyote Story. 2005, told by Johnny Arlee (Salish), color illustrations by Sam Sandoval (Salish).
    • Joe, Donna. Mayuk the Grizzly Bear: A Legend of the Sechelt People. Sechelt First Nation, British Columbia, 1993.
    • Thomason, Dovie. The Animals’ Wishes. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2000.
    • Thomason, Dovie. Lessons from the Animal People. Audio CD. Yellow Moon Press, 1996.
    • Thomason, Dovie. Fireside Tales: More Lessons from the Animal People. Audio CD. Yellow Moon Press, 2001.
    • Tingle, Tim. When Turtle Grew Feathers: A Tale from the Choctaw Nation. Atlanta, GA: August House, 2006.

Share this