This lesson allows students to discover how old technology works in a modern world, including finding north and therefore, how to make a compass. Students will learn the use of Arapaho words when constructing the drawing of the Big Dipper, and understand the role of the Big Dipper and other stars in stories, social songs, hand games and in other Native American uses.
The Teacher should discuss how stories are intertwined into Arapaho culture. While learning what the direction of North means to us Arapaho people, students will share knowledge of the Big Dipper. This allows them to feel and touch the “Big Dipper” and to get a closer look at the stars. Teachers will want to give background information of how the Seven Sisters story originated and, if possible, bring in a Tribal Elder at a later date to share his or her knowledge about how the star systems work in Arapaho lives.
- Big Dipper: Tebiiceso’o
- Star(s): Ho3o’uu –
- Little Dipper: Heecestebiiceso’o
- Sky: Hono’
- Night Sky: Tece’hono’
- Story: Hoo3itoo
- North Star: Nenowo3o’
- Seasons: Heeneecxoooyei’oo
- Fall: Ceenkoo’
- Winter: Ceciini’
- Spring: Beenii’owuuni’
- Summer: Beniice’
Introduce students to the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper and the North Star.
Have students discuss what they already know about these constellations.
Have students read the Story of the Seven Sisters individually or in small groups. If it will help, read the story together in the whole class.
Reflect on how the “North Star” is used for navigation. Discussion could include landmarks and cairns—piles of rocks stacked up—tipi rings, natural land formations, rivers and creeks.
Have students complete their drawings of the Big Dipper and the North Star by using some of the star symbols on Plate XXXVIII—pp. 160/186—of the handout on Arapaho symbols linked above.
Close by discussing any questions students might have. Have them turn in their drawings that map the stars.
For more discussion, have students read two more stories from the pdf of the book, Arapaho Songs and Prayers: the story of the Woman and the Porcupine, pp. 344-353, and the story of the Girl Who Becomes a Bear, pp. 376-381. How are they different from the Seven Sisters story? How are they similar?
Have students write, tell or draw the story of the Seven Sisters and its meaning.