Rock Camp Lessons

 Grass Skirts and Wickiups

Purpose: The students will gain an understanding of the culture of Serrano Indians, become familiar with the terms natural resource, wickiup, shelter, dwelling and ramada. The class will work in small groups to construct skirts or sections of grass panels for wickiups using the traditional methods.

Standards addressed: History/Social Sciences: 3.2. American Indian nations in their regions long ago and in the recent past. National Geography: 9. Character- istics, distribution, and migration of human populations. 10. Complexity of cultural mosaics.

Materials: Raffia bundles for each group of 2-4 students

Procedure: Students will braid several strands of raffia to make a rope about 36" long. When rope is completed, individual strands of raffia are folded in half, forming a loop at one end. The looped end is placed behind the raffia rope. Holding loop in place with one hand, the other ends are passed through the loop, thus securing the strand to the rope. This procedure is repeated along the rope for approximately 24’’, making a panel resembling a Hawaiian grass skirt. When completed, another panel is made in the same fashion.

To assemble the skirt, simply tie first panel around the waist, securing with a bow tie in the back. The take second panel and tie around the back, securing with a knot in the front.

To assemble the wickiup panels, layer grass panels over a small dome tent. Panels may be tied together at ends to encircle tent. Shorter panels are used progressively towards the top. Point out to students that Serrano wickiups were made on a frame of poles similar to tent poles, but much more numerous. The end of the poles were stuck into the ground, surrounding a pit app. 2’ deep and 12’ across. A smoke hole was left in the center of the ceiling. Although this shelter will have rather thin sides, point out that Serrano dwellings had many, many layers and were quite snug and watertight. The ramada, a covered-patio type structure, made of poles and covered with branches, was often built nearby.

Extension: Students write an essay or journal response entry expressing their understanding of the Serranos’ use of grasses as a natural resource for clothing and shelter. Their understanding of the terms natural resource, wickiup, shelter, dwelling, and ramada will be assessed on a unit test.

 

Native American Drums

Purpose: To emphasize the importance of music and ritual to the Serranos and other Indian peoples

Standards addressed: History/Social Sciences: 3.2. American Indian nations in their regions long ago and in the recent past. National Geography: 9. Characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations. 10. Complexity of cultural mosaics.

Materials: Coffee cans, oatmeal or salt boxes, or round ice cream cartons for each student to make drums. Paper to cover, muslin or old sheets for the head and bottom, rubber bands, pony beads, crayons, markers, wooden kitchen mixing spoons, yarn of various colors, feathers, and glue.

Procedure: After removing the bottom of the coffee cans (not necessary with cardboard containers), cover the cylinders with paper decorated in Indian designs. Then cut two circles of muslin approximately 2-3" larger around than the cylinders. Secure with rubber bands. Cover the rubber bands with yarns wound around the cylinder. Decorate the spoons with markers in geometric Indian patterns. Wind a section of the handle with yarn, attaching feathers and beads for decoration. Strike the drums with the spoon beaters. Pine needles may also be used to create a whisking-like sound.

 

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