Sunday, November 13, 2011

Problems in Plymouth - The Tepee vs. The Wigwam


We finished up reading the sixth book in The Imagination Station series by Marianne Hering and Marshall Younger, this weekend. It's the first book in the series in which I've noticed glaring historical inaccuracies. Of course, that might be due to the other books we've been reading at the same time...


...such as Bonnie Shemie's Houses of bark - tipi, wigwam and longhouse...


...or The Wigwam and the Longhouse by Charlotte and David Yue, which inspired the older girls to build a pipe cleaner wigwam, earlier in the week.


When the time traveling cousins from The Imagination Station headed to Plymouth, were captured by Indians, and found themselves being held in a tepee, and not just a conical, bark covered tepee-like wigwam, but a full blown, hide covered, tent-type tepee, we were a little thrown off. Then, when they met an Indian "chief" in a full feather war bonnet, we were dumbfounded.

I'm not sure why the authors would have gone to enough trouble to research the lives of the Pilgrims, to the point of knowing they did not always dress in black, or wear buckles on their hats, but then present them as living near native tribes more like the Lakota Sioux, than the eastern tribes the Pilgrims would have actually encountered. The inaccuracy seems strange for a history based series.

We decided to build a quick model tepee, to compare with our wigwam, by lashing three pipe cleaners, with blobs of clay on the bottoms for stability, together into a tripod.


We started to add additional "poles", but discovered the pipe cleaners were too thick for the job, so we just stuck with the original three...


...and moved on to making a covering, by cutting a crumpled, semi-circle out of packing paper, with a radius slightly smaller than our pipe cleaners.


We wrapped the straight edge of the semi-circle around the pipe cleaner frame, to form a cone, taping it in the back...


...and cutting a slit, to make a door flap in the front.



It's not at all the way a real tepee would be covered, but it was good enough to give the children the idea of the simplicity of the "tent" design - perfect for the nomadic tribes of the Great Plains, and nothing like the somewhat permanent dwellings of the more settled, eastern tribes.



NativeAmericanLanguages.org has an excellent, picture filled page, comparing and contrasting Native American dwellings, and building styles, that we found especially helpful. You might want to check it out. Or, click over to the What My Child Is Reading link-up at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns to find out what other families have been reading and are recommending, this week.


It's great to be a homeschooler.

10 comments:

Debbie said...

I love it!

Wonder Mom said...

You ALWAYS teach me something...

Phyllis said...

Steven and I were just talking about this very same thing today. He was saying that the Kids Discover magazine we have been reading has a picture of the Indians in Sioux war bonnets. The magazine does describe the picture, which was a painting done in 1914, as a "romanticized view" but it doesn't explain any further than that and the picture does take up a two-page spread. For non-readers, this could be very deceiving. I told him that when I was in elementary school we always had a teepee craft around Thanksgiving time. It was never stated that the Indians present at the first Thanksgiving lived in teepees, but it was certainly what I took away from the experience and I am sure I wasn't alone. It wasn't until I was in Junior or High School before I got it all straightened out.

Raising a Happy Child said...

How interesting. Until very recently I didn't even realize that Native Americans lived differently. There is only one word in Russian for their structures, and it's Wigwam.

Bailey said...

I guess I had the advantage of growing up with Plimouth Plantation to clear up the myths and legends. They have been pushing for more accurate children's books for years on the topic.

Your example does provide us with a reminder of the valuable teaching moments. It is important to have kids question the material they are reading and if they don't realize that errors have been made, as adults we can help them to learn to question.

I talked to some of my younger relatives recently about the "Thanksgiving" images we see of Pilgrims in decorations, etc. and the real historical Pilgrims that existed.

Christy said...

It is weird that they only researched half of the story!

Ticia said...

That is odd for them. I'm thinking back to Thanksgiving crafts and I always remember the totem pole as our main craft for the Natives. Hmmmm..... Interesting thoughts here.

Phyllis said...

Ticia...yes, now that you say that, we did totem poles, too, and had the teepees and totem poles together. Oh, how mixed up is that?!

Mary said...

Hi,
I'd contact the company that wrote the books and tell them of their mistake. Maybe the would reprint the book. I don't know where you live, but if you're ever in the Finger Lakes area (NY), there is replica Algonguin longhouse at Ganondaga. (there may be a website).

Sparklee said...

Oh! We have The Wigwam and the Longhouse! Somewhere... Thanks for reminding me to read it!

It's a shame when authors lump all Native Americans together as if they are all the same...they are and were such a diverse group of people, with so many different cultures. Glad you caught the error and talked about it with your kids!