Lesson Plan for Tomo of Kukumonga Village

 The book can be easily read in a group setting, independently or in small groups. I would make sure to discuss each chapter, using comparison and contrast to expand students' thinking about basic human needs and our modern version of what we need to be happy.

Chapter 1 - Day Begins

I would discuss, perhaps with a chart, how our morning activities compare with Tomo's. Discuss how our food supply and water supply are different. I would give special attention to the craftsmanship that could produce a basket capable of holding water!

Chapter 2 - Morning Meal

This would be a good time to introduce a mano and metate to the class. Students could experience a meal of corn meal, grits, or some other cooked grain. The book Cahuilla has pictures of the cooking stones, and you can see an excellent example of the cooking basket in the San Bernardino County Museum. Time to discuss cultural differences: The tatooing of women in the village, lack of clothing, and the ages of when boys and girls become men and women.

Chapter 3 - The Rabbit Hunt

This chapter provides an excellent opportunity to discuss our feelings about killing animals. Tomo is obviously very proud of his accomplishments, and doesn't seem at all upset to be taking life. Discuss how we hire other people to slaughter and dress our meat for us. Does this make us less aware that animal life is taken to provide meat? Encourage students to talk to parents or grandparents who may have routinely slaughtered farm animals or hunted to provide family food. The bone meal preparation at the end is an excellent illustration of a society that uses all parts of an animal for some purpose. Discuss trash and waste.

Chapter 4 - The Celebration

Here is a great time to discuss the importance of ritual and mystical belief. Students may be beginning to understand that people have many different kinds of religions and get many valuable things from their beliefs.

Chapter 5 - Harvesting

When you discuss this chapter you will notice that the plant products the Kukumonga used were their staples. The County Museum has an excellent pair of yucca sandals on display. You may want to get some plant fiber (palm, grass, yucca, or other) and give students a chance to try to twist and create simple twine or rope. If you bring manila twine to class, students can untwist the twine to discover that it is merely strands of plant fiber twisted together.

Chapter 6 - Bear Tracks

Tomo gathers tules for sleeping mats. The importance of the marshes and creeks is obvious to them, but we tend to ignore wetlands because we are not dependent on them. This is a great time to discuss how this valley once flowed with many streams and creeks, and water could be found almost anywhere. This is a very strange kind of desert! By damming the creeks upstream and sinking many wells, the modern settlers have almost eliminated water flowing across the land. Tomo and his people would not be able to live now as they did then.

Chapter 7 - Winter Days

Discuss how the lifestyle changed with the weather. Discuss how we change with our seasons. Do we spend more time inside during the winter months? How do our values and teachings compare with the values of Tomo's family?

Chapter 8 - The Great Wind

While we were reading this book, we started a project to build a small kish or wikiup on our school grounds. We had it about two-thirds finished when we went off-track. During that time some mighty Santa Ana winds came up and demolished our kish. We were, naturally, disappointed, but it made an excellent true-life connection to this chapter!

Chapter 9 - Rebuilding the Village

This chapter gives you a great opportunity to talk about how flexible the Natives were. Their village is almost completely destroyed, yet they cheerfully begin to rebuild immediately. Remember that they considered Nature a friend, who brings both help and trouble. We consider Nature an enemy, to be conquered or feared. If our town was destroyed, could we rebuild in a few days? Are there advantages to living simply?

Chapter 10 - A Day to be Remembered

How would we react to a bear in our neighborhood? Tomo's reaction is a part of his belief system. The bear's appearance is a good sign, with mystical meaning.


A good source for words for a game show or quiz on the book. A helpful tool for students. You could develop a crossword puzzle for students based on these words.

Map Page

The end of the book is one of the most interesting features. Students who have learned about their local history could do a similar project for their own town. Loma Linda would provide an excellent map overlay experience. Students could draw a map with early features like Mound City, Bryn Mawr, Old Town, and so on, then overlay on tissue with drawings of today's schools, stores, churches and neighborhoods. Fun!