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Simulated Native American Artifact Excavation Activity

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If you ask kids today how we know what we know about a subject they often will answer “google” or the “internet”. Try it.

To get students to think of themselves as seekers of knowledge, I’m always trying to create lessons that allow them to comprehend information through their own discoveries. This makes lessons more personal, meaningful and memorable.

To help elementary age students learn about the Lenape or Delaware Native Americans I create a simulated artifact excavation activity. I’ll bury animal bones (mostly deer and bear), pottery shards, arrowheads, shells and stones. The students become archaeologists making exciting discoveries as they excavate, clean, record and organize findings.

When ready we circle around the findings and one at a time discuss what we think an item is, what it was used for and what the modern equivalent might be.

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Can You Dig It!

Uncover and analyze artifacts in an

attempt to reconstruct aspects of 

New Jersey Indian Life and Culture.

 

Lesson:

Participants approach excavation site to uncover artifacts of the Lenape people in a simulated archaeological dig.

    • Job 1 Digging: This team works to take layer by layer the soil including artifacts from the site to provide to the sifters.
    • Job 2 Sifting: at this station material from the dig is sorted through to remove the artifacts.  The team works together to find everything they can.  Encourage the group to be meticulous in the sorting process, small objects may be harder to find.
    • Job 3 Sorting: This team is responsible for sorting the objects in similar piles.  This can be done in containers of different sizes.
    • Job 4 Recording: Using the grid view data sheet recorders document what quadrant and depth level items were discovered.

Extension:

  • Arrowhead Necklace: Allow participants to search in a simulated archeological dig to find arrowheads. The arrowheads can be tied up with cord to make a necklace.  Explain that in a real dig the archaeologists would never take anything because they would go to a museum for everyone to study and enjoy.
  • Ask participants to make a mystery box of artifacts from their life. Allow teams to try and reconstruct the persons life from the items brought in to share.
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Lenape Site and Native American Day

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Together with Mike Dennis of Traditional Earth Skills we’ve created a Lenape Learning Area where students can experience and participate in Native American educational programming including field trips, camps, workshops and special events.

The site creates wonderful opportunities for program and event visitors to participate in a variety of experiential hands-on and skill-based activities and crafts.  Some of the offerings have included Three-Sisters Garden planting, Sewing Medicine Bags and Moccasins, Dyeing bracelets with Native Plants, Crushing Corn with Mortar and Pestle, Throwing Corn Cob Darts, Fire-Friction and Fire Building Skills, Cord Making, Simulated Archaeological Digs, Wild Edible and Medicinal Plant Walks and much more.

The Lenape Learning area includes: Wigwam Shelter, Mortar and Pestle Corn Grinder, Garden Area with Deer Antler and Scapula Gardening Tools, Food Cache Pit, Corn Cob Dart Throwing Station, Fish Drying Station and Hide Tanning Display.

To learn more about program opportunities in NJ, check out Mike’s site at www.TraditionalEarthSkills.com 

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