Investigate The World
For our summer US History assignment we read multiple chapters of the American Yawp sections on Native Americans. This mostly gave us an overview on broad belief systems, agriculture, social structure, and other food sources. This fits within the pillar of Investigate the World because it helped us to understand the origins of native societies and provide a basis for us to go more in depth later on. Furthermore, this allowed us to view Native life before their land was colonized; a time period often ignored by history courses. This addresses my overarching question because it shows the drastic change in native life effected after white settlers began interacting with them.
"This map shows the major Native American cultural regions in the United States and Canada as they were when the Europeans first arrived, It also names a few of the tribes living in each region. There was little unity among the tribes or among the regions, which made it easier for Europeans to gain control of the land."
- National Geographic Society
“Native American Cultures.” National Geographic Society, National
american-cultures/. Accessed March 2018
As part of my English class we were assigned a project in which we were to investigate a question regarding a developing issue regarding Native Americans. As a section of mine, I studied the preservation of traditional Cherokee arts and clothing- specifically tear dresses and metal work. This look into how these art forms have developed fits under the pillar on investigate the world because I was previously uninformed about this particular topic, and this brought a new light to not only the art itself, but the centuries of meaning and practice behind it. Furthermore, it allowed me to present this in an online setting to others, allowing them to access a condensed and simplified version for their own enlightenment. This addresses my overarching question regarding change in communities because it shows the specific change in the unique arts traditions within the Cherokee tribe.
Traditional Cherokee clothing and jewelry use bold shapes and colors through bead and copper work. For thousands of years the Cherokee nation has used copper as a resource for trade as well as for jewelry because of the close location of copper mines. Shells, nuts, carved beads, and gold were also popularly used in jewelry making. Later, as Europeans began to trade with the nation, silver, glass beads, vibrant seed beads, silk thread, needles, and fabric became popular materials. Many jewelry makers include traditional symbolism, such as the integration of images from various stories. Today there are many Cherokee jewelry makers that sell their art online and in stores.
The most popular traditional style of clothing for Cherokee women is the tear dress, while for men it is the ribbon shirt. The tear dress is from the Trail of Tears era, where women did not have access to scissors or other household items, so they tore fabric from larger bolts. They are traditionally calico print with detailing around the bottom of the skirt. They had ¾ sleeves to make housework and cooking easier, cut off mid calf, and had a button up top so as to nurse children better. The ribbon shirt, for men, is also made from calico fabric with ribbon designs on front and back. The sleeves are similar to the women’s dress, and the shirt is still worn today in the pow wow circuit.
These traditional arts are preserved through pow wows as well as through traditional seamstresses and artists. Generally they are not worn as everyday apparel for the Cherokee but instead for gatherings and dances.
Bennett, Brittney. “Cherokee Holiday Powwow Brings Families, Traditions Together.” Cherokee Phoenix, Cherokee Phoenix, 13 Sept. 2017,
Wittick, George Ben. “Bai-De-Schluch-A-Ichin or Be-Ich-Schluck-Ich-In-Et-Tzuzzigi (Slender Silversmith) ‘Metal Beater," Navajo
Silversmith, Photo by George Ben Wittick, 1883.” Wikipedia, Wikipedia, 14 Feb. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
When we were in New Mexico we did a hike with a geologist through the tent rock formations outside of Albuquerque. We learned that these unique structures were formed over thousands of years after a volcanic explosion through wind and water erosion. The elements created pointed, tower-like formations that we were able to hike around and observe. This fits within the pillar of Investigate the World, because we were able to see geographic formations that we otherwise would not have known about. We also learned about how they were formed and the science surrounding the region. This fits into my overarching question because it was originally a special place for the navajo people, traditionally named Kasha-Katuwe, and it is now a popular destination for visitors. This illustrates the changing relationships between natives and their land as enforced by the dominant culture.
In our summer work for AP US History we read extensively about the traditional lives of pre-colonial Native Americans. I then created a map that detailed the different territories, tribes, and food practices of the indigenous people. This map fits within the pillar of Investigate the World, because it shows the history of North America anthropologically. Furthermore, the map gives background on a diverse set of people and sheds light on why traditions and habits may have been formed. This source addresses my overall question in that it shows the basis of Native communities: pre-settlers, and most significantly, before their land was taken.
In English we read Pocahontas Paradox, By Cornel Pewewardy, which is labeled as a cautionary tale for educators. This reading fits within the pillar of Investigate the World because it shows the different and incorrect ways Native Americans are portrayed in the white media- allowing us to investigate how stereotypes thrive throughout the world. Furthermore, it supports the pillar because it shows the different kinds of incorrect ideas that are formed early on through exposure in all facets of media. This source addresses my overarching idea because it shows the different standards placed upon native communities.
Cubria, Kaitlin. “Pocahontas GIF.” Clevver.com, Clevver, 26 Sept.
messages/. Accessed April 2018