Our new ‘Americas’ topic has been brought to life through a wonderful visit from a native American family. The Blackhorse family explained how life was for American Indians before the white settlers arrived and how many customs and traditions are still practised today. They explained that children are encouraged to be very independent, building and rowing their own canoes and learning crafts such as beading at a very young age.
The family brought many artefacts for us to look at and hold including woven apache sashes, shirts, dresses, moccasins, beaded bags and head dresses. We discovered that the feather headdresses were worn by people who were responsible for others in the community such as the police or teachers. Indian chiefs did not wear them as in the event of battle they could be too easily identified.
We learned how native Americans made moccasins by taking animal skin, drawing around their feet and then stitching the skin together. They were then decorated with beads in different patterns depending on which tribe they belonged to. The shoes were then made waterproof by being smoked over a fire.
The family sang traditional songs accompanied by their flute and drums, and demonstrated Lakota sign language. Our Early Years children particularly enjoyed taking part in an ancient rain dance called the ‘snake dance’.