Hiawatha, the Great Peacemaker

3, 4, 5

To show students how one person's action for the common good can affect an entire community. To make students aware of philanthropic activities in their own community.

Lesson Rating 
Print1-2 class periods

The learner will:

  • Through class discussion, students will review the terms: philanthropy, wampum, community, hero, and natural resources.
  • Through class discussion and using an Academic Service-Learning project in which students were involved, list the Four-Step Plan (need, plan, action, result) to solve a problem in their community.
  • Students will collect at least three (3) articles from magazines or local newspapers that show examples of philanthropy.
  • Students will choose one newspaper article to complete the Four- Step Problem Solving Plan. See Philanthropy in My Community Worksheet (Attachment One).


  1. Anticipatory Set: Write the name "Hiawatha" on the black board and ask students to tell what they know about this Native American.

  2. Review vocabulary terms:philanthropy: private action for the public goodwampum: a belt or necklace made of pieces of shellsnatural resource: anything found in the environment that people usecommunity: people who live together in the same areahero: a person who is noted for great courage, nobility, or achievementsleader: A person that shows the way or directs others; guiderole model: A person who is usually successful or inspiring in some social role and serves as a model for others

    • Read about Hiawatha.
    • Discuss the word "philanthropy" and ask how it might relate to Hiawatha.
    • To help students see the characteristics of a legendary hero, create a graphic organizer showing four-step problem solving: need, plan (resources), action taken to solve the problem, and result.
    • Complete the graphic organizer together as a class with information from a story about Hiawatha.Problem: Hiawatha was sad because of the wars between the Indian tribes. Steps taken to solve the problem:
      • Hiawatha goes into the forest alone to think about ways to solve the problem.
      • He discovers purple and white shells and uses grasses to weave the shells into belts (wampum).
      • Hiawatha travels to other villages to talk about peace. He gives wampum as a symbol of peace.
      • Tribes learn to live together peacefully.
    • Ask a volunteer to talk about an issue he is concerned about and go through a four-step problem solving plan. Need, plan, action, result. Example:Need: A way to help solve pollution (auto emissions, land fills, water, smoking)Plan: List ways to reduce pollution,Action: Steps taken to solve the problem: recycle, car pooling, walking when possible, save on waterResult: Less pollution and cleaner air to breathe.Point out to students that for all of these problems, the result is people helping people, often using natural resources to make a difference for others in their community.
    • Ask students to name some persons in their community that they think were leaders and/or heroes. Students might name early leaders in their community.
    • Students begin collecting newspaper and magazine articles that show examples of philanthropy in their communities.
    • Students will complete Philanthropy in My Community-Hero Worksheet (Attachment One), using one of the newspaper articles brought in showing an example of philanthropy in their own community.

Hero worksheet shows four-step plan to problem solving (see Attachment One, Philanthropy in My Community-Hero Worksheet). Three to five news articles showing examples of philanthropy in community Teacher Note: Create a bulletin board with all of the newspaper and magazine articles.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.9 Give examples how people give time, talent or treasure in different cultures.