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by Sherman Alexie

Learning Target: Students will analyze the poem and reach a conclusion about its message, meaning and significance. Writing task and expressing opinion.


“The Powwow at the End of the World� By Sherman Alexie I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam downriver from the Grand Coulee. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific and causes all of it to rise. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after the first drop of floodwater is swallowed by that salmon waiting in the Pacific. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after that salmon swims upstream, through the mouth of the Columbia and then past the flooded cities, broken dams and abandoned reactors of Hanford. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after that salmon swims through the mouth of the Spokane River as it meets the Columbia, then upstream, until it arrives in the shallows of a secret bay on the reservation where I wait alone. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after that salmon leaps into the night air above the water, throws a lightning bolt at the brush near my feet, and starts the fire which will lead all of the lost Indians home. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after we Indians have gathered around the fire with that salmon who has three stories it must tell before sunrise: one story will teach us how to pray; another story will make us laugh for hours; the third story will give us reason to dance. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall when I am dancing with my tribe during the powwow at the end of the world.


Sherman Alexie He is a Native American writer. He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and is a member of the tribe. He writes about his heritage and culture.

What is Powwow? An American Indian gathering, often holding deep, personal, spiritual, and community connection.


I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam and topples it.


I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam downriver from the Grand Coulee.


I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific and causes all of it to rise.


I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after that salmon swims upstream, through the mouth of the Columbia and then past the flooded cities, broken dams and abandoned reactors of Hanford.


I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after that salmon leaps into the night air above the water, throws a lightning bolt at the brush near my feet, and starts the fire which will lead all of the lost Indians home.


I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall when I am dancing with my tribe during the powwow at the end of the world.


The Grand Coulee Dam It is near the Spokane Indian Reservation and is the largest concrete structure ever built. the Spokane Indian Tribe has stated how the Dam has destroyed the natural habitat or their land, and has eliminated many of the tribe's natural resources.


Think about the Hanford’s impact on the natural environment


Group discussion: • • • • • •

What is the message of this poem? Why is this poem's title significant? Why is the powwow happening at the end of the world? After each repetition of .."and so I shall.." the author states a sequence of events and the condition of his forgiveness. Can these conditions be met? Why is it important to know the author is a member of a tribe? Who is the poem addressed to? What is the impact of the reactors on nature?

Write a response using two or three sentences for at least four of the questions.


Assessment 65 %: • • • • • •

Understanding of the poem and its significance to the tribal people. Thinking – creative thinking skills Communication Proper response to all questions. Actively engaged in discussion and research of topic. Organization of material: neatness, grammar, layout.


This Morning I Pray for My Enemies by Joy Harjo


This Morning I Pray for My Enemies by Joy Harjo, 1951 And whom do I call my enemy? An enemy must be worthy of engagement. I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking. It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind. The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun. It sees and knows everything. It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing. The door to the mind should only open from the heart. An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.


What word is associated with the Sun? • Write down examples like: I see sun as.. • Share with partner • How the image of Sun – heart made you feel? • Read the poem out loud • Write down your thoughts


Discuss the meaning of “The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun”


Whole-group discussion: • What do think it takes to turn an enemy into a friend? • Share ideas and practical advice. • Research on the web.


Assessment 35%: • • • • • •

Understanding of the poem Thinking – creative thinking skills Communication with peers Proper response to the questions. Actively engaged in discussion Organization of material: neatness, grammar, layout.

Native american poetry  
Native american poetry  
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