January 11, 2013

Class Projects: Iroquois Stars & Air Cars

Lately, I've been having a very enjoyable time helping my son with some assignments that he had to do for his school. One such project that we worked on was an Iroquois Journal that would chronicle a five-day span in the life of one of the tribe's young people. The entries needed to be both informative and personal. Being that we had visited the Iroquois Museum in Cobleskill just two years ago, we already knew quite a bit about some of their stories and traditions. With just a little more research, we were able to put together a fairly detailed report. To accompany the journal, I plugged in my hot glue gun and went to work making a Longhouse out of some twigs and dried leaves that we had gathered up from the backyard. While the tiny structure we created didn't end up looking like a Longhouse exactly, we were very happy with it and had a lot of fun putting it together. I guess we did a pretty good job because my son ended up getting an A+ on the project. Here are the journal entries:

Day 1:

During a terrible rainstorm this past week, our tribe’s Longhouse got a leak in the roof. Father and I gathered a bunch of wooden posts and elm bark shingles to make the repair. We spent the entire morning in the hot sun. The Longhouse is a sacred dwelling where we hold tribal meetings, conduct ceremonies, and participate in social dancing. The name Haudenosaunee translates into “People of the Longhouse."

Day 2:

After our evening meal, my friends and I went to the lake to do a little bit of night spear fishing. Once we had rowed from shore in our birch bark canoes, we used torches to illuminate the surface of the water. Sometimes during the day, we also go fishing in shallow waters, but this requires us to stand still for very long periods of time until the fish swim nearby. This time out, we caught some Largemouth Bass. 

Day 3:

Today, I learned to make traps to obtain hides and meat. We made simple snare traps using ropes and bent saplings to catch smaller animals. For bears, we piled logs into a box-shaped trap. Meat was used to lure the bears into it and the great weight would cause the logs to topple over. I enjoyed my time in the woods. The pelts will really help keep us warm in the winter. 

Day 4:

This afternoon, I was watching my sister playing with her cornhusk dolls by the river. Grandmother had taught us about the reason why cornhusk dolls have no faces. She said that the Creator made them to look after the children. One day, one of the dolls saw its reflection in a pool. It got so wrapped up in looking at itself that it forgot all about the children. When the Creator saw that the children were in danger, he punished the doll by taking away its face. That is the reason cornhusk dolls are made without faces.

Day 5:

Following our morning meal, I paid a visit to Uncle to see how his porcupine quillwork is progressing. My uncle is a very skilled quillworker and he has been hard at work on a war shirt for about a year now. The process involves the softening and dying of porcupine quills and then the weaving of them into leather. I can’t wait to see the shirt when it is finished. Last year, he made me a medicine bag and it is beautiful.

Another class project that I really liked was the making of an air-powered car. This little invention can whiz across our kitchen tiles with ease. So cool! Cheers!

"My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor
all day long."

~Psalm 71:8