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Northwest Coast Native Americans: Literature Connection: Shi-shi-etko

Activity Overview

There are many books related to Native Americans of the Northwest Coast that can help students to better visualize and understand the people and their rich culture. Some short picture books can be used as a whole class read-alouds where other longer books can be used as longer novel studies. In this activity, students will create a plot summary of the book using visuals and descriptions.

The book used for the example storyboard is Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell. Shi-shi-etko is a beautifully illustrated and poignant book appropriate for Grades 2–6. It is the story about Shi-shi-etko who is about to have to leave her family and everything she knows to attend a residential school.

Residential schools in Canada and the United States ripped children away from their families in a forced effort to assimilate Native Americans into European American culture. Children were not allowed to speak their language or practice their customs and would be punished for doing so. It is estimated that between 1831-1996, hundreds of thousands of Native American children were forcibly removed from their homes by government agents and placed in residential (or “boarding”) schools that were run by the government and churches.

Former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, issued an official apology on June 11, 2008: “Two primary objectives of the residential school system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, 'to kill the Indian in the child.' Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.”

Folk Tales

Shanyaak’utlaax̱: Salmon Boy
Sharing our World: Animals of the Native Northwest Coast and Goodnight World: Animals of the Native Northwest
  • Both are short picture books about the animals of the Native Northwest Coast with beautiful illustrations from artists from Coast Salish, Haida, Bella Bella, and many other Nations that have contributed colorful images as well as cultural information about each creature.

Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest
  • The raven is an important spiritual figure for the Indigenous people of the Northwest Coast. He is seen as a cunning shapeshifter with magical powers that is credited with giving humankind the gifts of light, fire, and food.
  • Video of Reading

Realistic Fiction or Biographies

Little Whale: A Story of the Last Tlingit War Canoe
  • Author Roy A. Peratrovich is a member of the Tlingit Nation and son of lauded Alaska Native civil rights activists Roy and Elizabeth Peratrovich
  • This story is based on a story passed down by Peratrovich’s grandfather about a 10-year old Tlingit boy named Keet who heads out on an epic Alaskan adventure after stowing away on his father’s canoe.

Yetsa's Sweater
  • Yetsa, her mother, and her grandmother work together to make a Cowichan sweater.

Fighter in Velvet Gloves: Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich
  • an upper grade (age 13-up) chapter book about Tlingit civil rights leader, Elizabeth Peratrovich. She gave a powerful speech fighting for equality in 1945 when Native Americans were treated as second class citizens in Alaska. Her efforts led to the passing of the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act. Today, Each February 16th, Alaska celebrates Elizabeth Peratrovich Day. Peratrovich is also honored on the gold one-dollar coin in 2020.
Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 5-6

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative Arcs

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/3] Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/1] Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/7] Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/9] Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/WHST/6-8/2/B] Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Summarize the story in a 3-5 cell storyboard describing the main events in the beginning, middle and end of the story.

Student Instructions

  1. Read the story.
  2. Click "Start Assignment".
  3. Create a 3-5 cell storyboard with descriptions and illustrations showing the sequence of major events in the story.
  4. Save and submit your storyboard.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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Indigenous Peoples of the Northwest Coast

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