Subtopic: Strawberry Thanksgiving
Grade Level: 4th - 5th
Author: Angela Armstrong Justesen
The Native Americans, specifically , the Narragansett and Niantic tribes, located in the New England States, have celebrations for each moon of the year. They have thirteen moons, and thirteen thanksgivings. At these thanksgivings, they give thanks for their bounteous harvests, their families, and traditions.
The Strawberry Moon is the early summer moon. Strawberry Thanksgiving takes place during mid to late June and reflects different kinds of celebrations. Not all tribes participate in this celebration. Strawberry Thanksgiving is celebrated wherever strawberries are grown, and each tribe celebrates it differently. Some tribes opt to celebrate privately, with only the family, tribe, or a few tribes attending. Others opt to make it a public celebration in which both Native American people and non-Native American people attend. This way of celebrating provides the non-Native Americans with an opportunity to learn about and participate in Native American traditions.
Their thanksgiving is a celebration of the Native American harvest and how grateful they are to be able to have such a bounteous harvest. They also celebrate their crafts, food, music, and dance. All four things are represented in abundance at the thanksgiving festival. There are artisans trying to sell their crafts, many traditional foods are prepared for consumption, and each tribe has its own music and dance to coincide with the thanksgiving celebration.
Legends are associated with each of the thirteen moons. Native Americans feel these legends are an important way of sharing the values of the tribe with the children. The legend of Strawberry Thanksgiving teaches about relationships and forgiveness. "A Native American girl and her brother were best friends and enjoyed playing together. On a walk in the woods one day, they disagreed on which path to follow. The girl angrily went her own way. She soon realized that she was lonely without the companionship of her brother and started to weep. Her tears fell on small bushes in straw. Strawberries grew where her tears landed. She gathered them to share with her brother. Now whenever people eat strawberries, they must forgive those with whom they have disagreed."
At the Strawberry Thanksgiving festival, a young boy and girl act out the story. A drummer beats softly in the background while an elder repeats the legend. The girl carries a basket of the berries to share with her brother. After sharing the strawberries, they break into a dance. This ceremony concludes as everyone joins in the dance.
As mentioned before, Strawberry Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest and how blessed the Native Americans felt they were concerning their harvest. The focus of this celebration is strawberries. Everyone eats strawberries, and once they have done so, they must forgive those with whom they have disagreed. This is the way they thank the Great Spirit for the gift of strawberries.
Jennings P. (1992). Strawberry Thanksgiving. Modern Curriculum Press.
Jennings, P. (1992). Teacher Resources Multicultural Celebrations. Strawberry Thanksgiving Teacher's Guide. Modern Curriculum Press.
Given the following activities relating to Strawberry Thanksgiving,
* Students will identify what a harvest celebration is and its purpose.
* Students will demonstrate their understanding of a legend.
* Students will identify a relationship in which they need to apologize or forgive another person.
Time Allotment: Approximately 3 - 4 class periods
* Strawberry Thanksgiving
A. Brainstorm. Ask students to tell you what Thanksgiving is and why we have it. Ask them what we are celebrating at Thanksgiving.
B. Group Share. Divide the students into groups and have them share what traditions their family may have for Thanksgiving. Have them nominate a spokesman to share with the class a few of the traditions they have.
C. Introduction. Tell the students that Native Americans have thirteen moons. They have a thanksgiving celebration for each of these moons. Tell them that they are celebrating their bounteous harvest of a particular food, or something that the Native Americans feel that they have been blessed with, just as at our Thanksgiving, we celebrate the things that we are thankful for. We just do it once a year. One of the moons is called the strawberry moon. It is a moon in late June and early July. Briefly share what Strawberry Thanksgiving is and what they are celebrating. Check for understanding with questions throughout discussion.
D. Concept Development. Review what a harvest is and why it is part of Strawberry Thanksgiving. (The next part coincides with harvests that Cache Valley and surrounding areas have. You will need to look into the harvests in your area to do this activity.) Ask someone to name one harvest or festival they are familiar with around the valley, (e.g., "Peach Days"). Discuss where it is held, what it is celebrating, and the activities that they do to celebrate. Then divide them into groups and have them come up with another harvest on their own. Have them write down the three things that were discussed earlier. NOTE: If they know the names of the harvests, but not the rest of the information, this activity could be used to have them write a letter to that city's Chamber of Commerce to find out more.
E. Legend Introduction. Define the concept of a legend. Include that legends are what the Native Americans use to explain why things are and also to teach values and lessons to their children. Either read Strawberry Thanksgiving to the students or just verbally tell the legend that goes along with Strawberry Thanksgiving. Discuss the value and/or legend being taught.
F. Pair Legends. In pairs, have them write their own legend. Remind them to either explain why something is the way it is or to teach a value or lesson. (e.g., Why the sun is yellow, the concept of sharing, why we look both ways when we cross the road, etc.) Have them share their legends in class.
G. Strawberry Thanksgiving legend discussion. Review what the legend was about and what happened at the end of it. Discuss what it means to forgive and forget someone that has done something to make you feel bad.
H. Writing Activity. Pass out strawberries to each student. Before they eat it, they must think of someone with whom they have had a disagreement with. Have them write either a letter of apology or just write who they are forgiving and why on a piece of paper so they can practice this activity.
I. Open Discussion. Bring all of the activities together with a discussion about, "What do you know about Strawberry Thanksgiving?"
* Papers about the local harvests will be assessed.
* Legend stories will be assessed.
* The "Strawberry" apology papers will be assessed.
* Responses to the discussion questions will be assessed.
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