Karen & Molly's 4/5 Class News

Cold Spring School

“A Cheyenne Odyssey” -- A Native American Simulation

This week we started a thematic studies simulation. It focuses on the transformation of Northern Cheyenne life on the Great Plains from 1866 to 1876. The “choose your own adventure” digital activity is divided into five parts, with an additional prologue that offers historical background, and an epilogue that extends the story into the twenty-first century.

In small groups, students are assuming the role of Little Fox, a twelve-year-old Northern Cheyenne boy. Little Fox’s daily life is determined by the needs and traditions of his family and community. His everyday life, however, is soon impacted by the encroachment of United States military expeditions, railroad builders, and white settlers. Little Fox and his friend Crooked Rabbit are herdboys, whose job is to watch the band’s herds of horses day and night. The adventure begins when they discover that there are some missing horses that have to be found. Do they go back to camp to get help, or try to find the horses themselves?

These are some of the essential questions that we are discussing:

What was daily life like for the Cheyenne before the reservation period?

Why did violent conflict break out between the indigenous peoples of the Plains and European-Americans in the 1860s and 1870s? How did each side understand and respond to this conflict?

How did Cheyenne children determine their future paths and roles in their communities?

I interviewed one group about the choices that they made in the first part of their adventure.

“How did you decide what to do?”

“We wanted to be courageous and brave, but the choices we made turned out to be just crazy,” Sebastian explained.

“We talked about it as a group. We wanted to make more interesting choices. There were obvious choices, but we wanted to be more interesting, “ added Tadeo.

“For example,” explained Joshua, “instead of collecting water, we had the opportunity to jump into the water. So we did. Then we got attacked by a beaver, so we had to run away to safety."

“How will this experience inform your choices for the future?”

“We now see many white men on a hilltop with horses,” said Sebastian.

Tadeo explained, “We want to keep making interesting choices, just not crazy ones!” Everyone agreed.

Guest Speaker Loren Spears

Just as our students began using the simulation to imagine and act through Little Fox's life at a previous time in history, and in a different landscape from where we live, a Narragansett educator, Loren Spears, came to share modern day and historical perspectives on indigenous lifestyles in our region. Loren is the Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, RI. She began by familiarizing us with the term “indigenous,” explaining that “Everything about me is woven into the land from which I live.” She told us that part of her regalia, or traditional clothing, was made from deer skin, an animal indigenous to this part of the country. Later, we felt a deer hide, and she explained the many uses of deer to her people, including food, a vessel to carry water, shelter, tools, and warmth.

Loren also guided students in some Narragansett traditions, including song and dance, making corn-husk dolls, and playing the Moccasin game, a game of trickery. Our newly-formed 4/5 newspaper crew was busy taking notes and sketching pictures. Stay tuned for the first issue (coming soon), which will feature the story of “No-Face Girl,” a traditional story that inspired the making of corn-husk dolls.

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Cold Spring School challenges children to become self-reliant, curious, and resourceful problem solvers with the academic and social skills to engage constructively and ethically in our diverse, changing world.