PrintOne 45 Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • give examples of philanthropic deeds of Native American people.
  • compare the deeds of Native Americans to the benefits and sacrifices (opportunity cost) of their actions.
  • Copies for each group of The Talking Circle handout
  • One feather for each group of seven (may be a paper feather.)
  • Student copies of Native American Scenarios handout
  • Large printout of each graphic on theNative American Scenarios Talking Circle Recording Sheet;glue them on paper; glue the corresponding scenario on the back
  • Copies for each group of the Native American story cards
  • Student copies of the My Communities handout
  • Student copies of the Native American Scenarios Talking Circle Recording Sheet
Teacher Preparation 
  • Make sets of the 7 scenarios for each group of 7 students.
  • Each scenario will be on a separate color of paper with the symbol on one side and the scenario on the other.
  • Use the following list to place the appropriate graphic on the back of each.  Use the graphics from Native American Scenarios Talking Circle Recording Sheet (Handout Four).

Thorpe - heart in hands
Massey - bag/pouch
Harris - shirt (explain the well-known phrase “the shirt off my back”)
Hill - grave
Mankiller - interconnected rings
Williams - key
Coyhis – deer


Make a collage using magazine pictures and words to represent the reflections on this lesson.


Michael Ranken.  Reproduction permitted provided source acknowledged. First published in Guildford Cathedral Papers, Autumn 1990.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Write the word community across the board with room under each letter to write words (It may be in a chart). Brainstorm with the students and write words under each letter that describe community or are the traits of people in a healthy community. For example, for C = caring, charity, contribute; for O = open-mindedness; for M = morality, mission; for U = unity. These may include words that represent good character: Considerate, as well as those that represent concepts that build a community: Unity.

  2. Hand out a Native American Scenario to each student. Explain to students that they will be “role-playing” during the next activity. They are to represent the person on their scenario card. Allow a few minutes for students to read through their scenario a couple times, about 5 minutes. Circulate the room to help students with any unfamiliar words.

  3. The Talking Circle: Explain to the students that the scenarios used in this activity are the authentic words of Native American people of today. Each of the people quoted in the lesson is real and is of our time period. These people represent the customs and habits of people of Native American communities.

  4. Display an overhead or slide of the Talking Circle Overhead (Handout Two) using whole group instruction. Once the students understand the concept, have them get into groups of seven according to the color of the construction paper on their scenario card. Have each group form a circle. Distribute a Native American Scenarios Talking Circle Recording Sheet (Handout Four).

  5. Have each student take a few minutes to record a few of key concepts on their recording sheet in the box designated for their respective scenario. For example: The student who has Thorpe will record some ideas in the box which contains the heart in hand, and so on with each student filling his or her portion of the recording sheet. (This procedure eliminates the need for the reader to stop and write during his/her presentation.)

  6. Choose one student to be the leader and give that student a feather. The leader’s responsibility is to help the students successfully complete this activity.

  7. Instruct the leaders to start the circle by introducing their “name and tribe” from the scenario sheet. They then share the beliefs from the scenario card. While each member of the circle is sharing, students continue to record concepts/words or ideas that pertain to that person’s beliefs and foster “community”. These words should be recorded on the recording sheet next to the graphic that is on the back of the reader’s scenario card. The talking circle continues until all members have had a chance to share.

  8. Note: Ideas for recording sheets and their correlation to graphics:

  9. Thorpe (heart in hand) This graphic is used because the message is that people give unconditional love, giving from the heart with no expectation of return.

  10. Massey (bag/pouch) This graphic is used to represent a collection of little things which are given to any visitors. The collection represents your appreciation of the visit.

  11. Harris (shirt) This graphic is used to represent the idea that no material item is too sacred to give to someone else. Harris explains that any item admired by another should be given to that person. This exemplifies the cliché “shirt off your back.”

  12. Hill (grave) This graphic is used to represent the idea of the spirit. Hill explains that people are known or remembered for what they give and that giving is generosity of the spirit.

  13. Mankiller (interconnected rings) This graphic is used to represent the strong connection the Native people have to their tribes.

  14. Williams (key) This graphic is used to represent William’s idea that respect is the key element in teaching philanthropy.

  15. Coyhis (deer) This graphic is used to represent the Native tradition of “sharing the deer.” “Sharing the deer” is the idea that everything you have is shared with your community, as in a hunt when the game is shared among all members of the group.

  16. Once all students have finished, conclude with a whole-group discussion of their findings.

  17. My Communities: Hand out My Communities (Handout Five) to each student.Take a few minutes to talk about what it means to sacrifice. Instruct students to complete the questions on this sheet. If time allows ask students to share their responses.


My Communities recording sheet

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Examine several examples of philanthropic traditions practiced in diverse cultures.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and give examples of stewardship in cultural traditions around the world.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.9 Identify pro-social behavior in different cultures and traditions.