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Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide  
Getting Started With This Guide  
Study Guide Summary  
Outline of the Study Guide  
Study Unit I Defining Terms  
Study Unit II Fieldwork Basics  
Study Unit III Discovering the Obvious: Our Lives as "The Folk"  
Study Unit IV The State of Our Lives: Being a Louisiana Neighbor  
Study Unit V Oral Traditions--Swapping Stories  
Study Unit VI Louisiana's Musical Landscape  
Study Unit VII Material Culture-The Stuff of Life  
Study Unit VIII The Worlds of Work and Play  
Study Unit IX The Seasonal Round and Life Cycles  
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Unit V Outline:


Lesson 1: Introduction to Traditional Oral Narratives

Lesson 2: Language and Dialect

Lesson 3: Folk and Family Heroes and Heroines

Lesson 4: Tall Tales and Urban Legends

Lesson 5: First Meeting of the Indians and the Europeans

Lesson 6: Historical Legends

Lesson 7: Personal Experience Narratives






  Unit V
Oral Traditions: Swapping Stories

Lesson 5 First Meeting of the Indians and the Europeans


My mother remembers that we had to go to the back of the bus in those days, too, until the Civil Rights Movement changed some of that. It's funny now to watch all those folks who didn't want to have anything to do with us come swarming back to get jobs at the casino and try to get on our rolls again now that they think we have money.

--Bertney Langley, Allen Parish

Of course, we didn't have a reservation in those days, because the Federal government terminated our tribe from the rolls of all Federal Indian tribes in Washington, D.C., during the Eisenhower administration. I like to tell our children that the pen is truly mightier than the sword, because we went to bed one night in 1953 as Indians in the eyes of the Federal government, and the next day we woke up and were no longer considered Indians.

--Bertney Langley, Allen Parish

Grade Levels


Curriculum Areas

English Language Arts, Social Studies


Purpose of Lesson

Students hear a Native American Indian point of view of Europeans' arrival in Louisiana told in Koasati. They consider how insiders, cultural perspectives, and native language shape a story, and learn about the Koasati tribe of Louisiana.


Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills

1. Students learn that history may be viewed from different cultural perspectives and by everyday people, not only historians.

H-1A-M2 Demonstrating historical perspective through the political, social, and economic context in which an event or idea occurred. (1, 2, 3, 4)

H-1A-M Analyzing the impact that specific individuals, ideas, events, and decisions had on the course of history. (1, 2, 3, 4)

H-1B-E2 Relating the history of the local community and comparing it to other communities of long ago. (1, 2, 3, 4)

ELA-7-M3 Analyzing the effects of an author's purpose and point of view. (1, 2, 4)

2. Students compare an English translation with a written Native American text.

ELA-1-E6 Interpreting texts to generate connections to real-life situations. (1, 2, 4)

ELA-5-E2 Locating and evaluating information sources (e.g., print materials, databases, CD- ROM references, Internet information, electronic reference works, community and government data, television and radio resources, audio and visual materials). (1, 3, 4, 5)

H-1A-E Identifying and using primary and secondary historical sources to learn about the past. (1, 3, 4)

3. Students study living Native American traditions of their own state.

H-1B-E2 Relating the history of the local community and comparing it to other communities of long ago. (1, 2, 3, 4)

4. Students explore folklife resources on the Internet.

ELA-7-E1 Using comprehension strategies (e.g., sequencing, predicting, drawing conclusions, comparing and contrasting, making inferences, determining main ideas) in contexts. (1, 2, 4)

ELA-7-E2 Problem solving by using reasoning skills, life experiences, and available information. (1, 2, 4)

ELA-5-E3 Locating, gathering, and selecting information using graphic organizers, simple outlining, note taking, and summarizing to produce texts and graphics. (1, 3, 4)


Time Required

2-5 class periods



Swapping Stories book and video, music stands, art supplies if making a readers' theater backdrop or overhead overlay, a map that shows where the Koasati live today—Jefferson Davis Parish and Allen Parish. Print out and duplicate any worksheets or rubrics that you will be using.


Technology Connections

Internet Resources

Creole State Exhibit

Ceremonial Mask, Koasati

Pine Straw Basket and Vases, Koasati

Spanish Moss Twister, Koasati

 Louisiana Folklife Articles

Louisiana's Native Americans: An Overview

The Stories of the Old People

Adaptation Strategies

Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana

Bel Abbey Introduction from Swapping Stories

A Storyteller's Perspective by Bertney Langley, Koasati Storyteller

The Stories from Swapping Stories


Student Worksheets

The Rest of the Story Worksheet


Assessment Tools

Anticipation Guide -- Point of View

Response Journal


Evaluation Tools/Opportunities


1. Response Journals
2. Anticipation Guide -- Point of View
3. The Rest of the Story Worksheet


1. Reader's theater
2. Student participation in reader's theater
3. Anticipation Guide -- Point of View--re-evaluated.


1. Drawings, artwork
2. Electronic slide show
3. Worksheets


Background Information for the Teacher

The eloquence and rhythmic pace of this story that Bel Abbey told in Koasati are evident in the English translation. In the Prologue students will hear a Native American point of view of Europeans' arrival in Louisiana and a linguistic cadence that differs from English. Because the rest of the story concerns Europeans' use of liquor to meet and entrap the Koasati, it is more appropriate for older students.

Swapping Stories offers two versions of Bel Abbey's story, illustrating not only the concept of variants and variations but how native language shapes a story. Like Shakespearean or biblical language, the English translation of the Koasati version may make more sense to students when read aloud. By viewing both the English and the Koasati versions of the Prologue, students can see a language that differs dramatically from their own and how the translator chose to arrange the English version on the page.

Louisiana has the largest Native American population in the eastern part of the country. The Koasati Indians, also known as the Coushatta, today live around Elton, Louisiana, in Jefferson Davis Parish and Allen Parish. They were resettled in this area during the Spanish Colonial period. This tale of the first meeting with Europeans occurred in what is now Alabama. The tribe has maintained its language and members speak Koasati at home. Finely made pine straw baskets and rivercane baskets are two major traditional crafts that the Koasati use as well as sell.

Many Native Americans refer to themselves as Indians. Their tribal affiliations and clans are also important identifiers. A class disccussion could include the subject of how students would like people to refer to them. What we call cultural groups can carry positive or negative cultural assumptions or even prejudice and stereotyping.


To Prepare

Read the Bel Abbey Introduction from Swapping Stories. Practice reading the Prologue and Scenes 1 and 2 of The First Meeting of the Indians and Europeans aloud. Study the rest of the story to determine whether you want to use it with older students since the story tells of European explorers giving Indians liquor to quell them. To get more background on the Koasati and other Louisiana tribes, read the essay Louisiana's Native Americans: An Overview, by H.F. Pete Gregory. If you want students to use these resources and they are written above their reading level, use Adaptation Strategies to build lessons around them.


4th Grade Activities

1. Distribute copies of the Anticipation Guide -- Point of View and allow a few minutes for students to respond privately to each statement. Then, engage students in a discussion about the statements by asking for their reactions. They should include reasons for their responses. This will allow students to explore and identify their own attitudes and beliefs, as well as listen to the ideas of their peers, prior to reacting with the issues in the stories they will read or hear.

2. Show students on a map where the Koasati live today, Jefferson Parish and Allen Parish. Share background information with them. Then introduce students to the concept of an insider's point of view -- the Indians' view of the coming of Europeans. Read the Prologue and Scenes 1 and 2 aloud to students. You may need to read this more than once to accustom them to the cadence and the story line.

3. Ask students what they thought of this story. Was the language difficult to understand? Discuss how translation might affect a story. Did they see the story from the Indians' or the Europeans' point of view? Distribute copies of the Response Journal and have students complete the statements to show their feelings about these stories.

4. Plan a classroom readers' theater with students, assigning some reading roles and others direction and artwork. Students may draw individual pictures or a classroom mural depicting the story to serve as backdrop of the story. Or they may draw on clear overhead projector sheets and change illustrations on a screen during the reading. Music stands make handy props for holding text and framing the activity as a performance.

Technology Option: Drawings can be scanned and put into an electronic slide show. These slides can be projected on the screen or wall as a backdrop for the performance.

4th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Download images of Koasati folk arts from the online Creole State Exhibit. Mount them as part of a classroom exhibit or use them as model from which to draw or sculpt replicas. Here are some examples:

Ceremonial Mask, Koasati

Pine Straw Basket and Vases, Koasati

Spanish Moss Twister, Koasati

2. Use The Rest of the Story Worksheet as a writing prompt.


8th Grade Activities

1. Follow Steps 1 and 2 above in the 4th Grade Activities.

2. If you've decided to use the rest of the story about Europeans introducing alcohol to the Indians, assign one group of students the remainder of the translation of Bel Abbey's story, First Meeting of the Indians and Europeans. Students should read and prepare group presentations or readers' theater presentations by following these steps:

choosing which passages to read

assigning roles

appointing a director

blocking the movements


presenting to the class.

3. Another approach is to discuss the Europeans' deposit of liquor as a parallel to similar "gifts" of blankets infected with smallpox to reduce tribal populations dramatically and drastically.

4. Students may research Europeans' responses to their first meetings with Indians in Louisiana or elsewhere in the New World and compare them with Bel Abbey's in an essay, oral presentation, or a drawing (see Lesson Resources below).


8th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Use The Rest of the Story Worksheet as a writing prompt.

2. Study more about Koasati traditions, beginning with an examination of Koasati stories. Read or listen to more Native American stories from Swapping Stories. There are some "why stories" such as The Turtle and the Rabbit Run a Race, How the Bat Got Its Wings, and Learning from the Bear. There is also a tall tale about hunting, Bel's Encounter with a Wise Owl. You may want to print out the online versions and put them into a binder.

3. Next, research Koasati traditions in publications and on the Internet, such as the online article, The Stories of the Old People .

You should know where the Koasati live today. You may download images from the
Creole State Exhibit to illustrate reports on the Koasati. Teachers, if these are written above your students' reading ability, refer to the Adaptation Strategies for ways to adjust and modify them to levels that students can understand.


Unit V Resources

Unit V Outline


National Endowment for
            the Arts.

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