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Priscella Lindberg, NEH Summer Scholar 2015

Place-Based Knowledge and the Quinault River

Lesson Plan by Priscilla Lindberg

Length:  Three weeks


This intensive is intended to educate students about place-based understandings of traditional ecological knowledge in general and particularly as it pertains to the Quinault River in the state of Washington. During these three weeks, students will spend all day enrolled in this one course. This intensive will involve site visits to the Quinault Indian Reservation and, if possible, meetings with representatives of the Quinault people in order to understand their perspective on the traditional and contemporary use of the Quinault River. The intensive will culminate in a hiking/rafting trip down the river while studying the ecology of the river and surrounding area. Students will spend their time divided between classwork studying traditional views (ideally situated in Quinault and Coast Salish literature) of the relationship between people and rivers/bodies of water and site visits to the reservation and certain areas of the river.  The combination of site visits and meetings with tribal representatives is a great idea! Connect with people is an important and meaningful part that will likely bring about attitudinal change in addition to knowledge gain.

Desired Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to

  • demonstrate understanding of Montana’s OPI’s “Seven Essential Understandings” and adapt these Understandings to tribes in the state of Washington
  • distinguish between the oral and written traditions and the purposes and impacts of each tradition;
  • recognize and participate in place-based values and viewpoints, In what way is this a learning outcome? e.g. traditional ecological knowledge (TEK);
  • gain proficiency in basic hiking and water-based skills, e.g. outdoors etiquette and river rafting;
  • gain proficiency in reading a topographical map and using a compass; familiarity with the Quinault River and river basin, “in situ;” and
  • establish connections to the Quinault Indian Reservation.

Engagement with the Seven Essential Understandings: Questions to Consider (to be adapted to reflect tribes in the state of Washington, most especially to the Quinault Nation)

  1. There is great diversity among the 12 tribal Nations of Montana in their languages, cultures, histories and governments. Each Nation has a distinct and unique cultural heritage that contributes to modern Montana.
  2. What tribes exist in Washington and where are they located currently?
  3. Are these tribes federally and/or state recognized?
  4. There is a great diversity among the individual American Indians as identity is developed, defined and redefined by entities, organizations and people. A continuum of Indian identity, unique to each individual, ranges from assimilated to traditional. There is no generic American Indian.
  5. In what ways do Quinault people express their cultural identity?
  6. In what ways have people or entities outside the Quinault community defined the people and what impacts has this had?
  7. The ideologies of Native traditional beliefs and spirituality persist into modern day life as tribal cultures, traditions, and languages are still practiced by many American Indian people and are incorporated into how tribes govern and manage their affairs. Additionally, each tribe has its own oral histories, which are as valid as written histories.
  8. What relationship do contemporary peoples have to their traditional, sacred sites?
  9. Reservations are lands that have been reserved by the tribes for their own use through treaties, statutes, and executive orders and were not “given” to them. The principle that land should be acquired from the Indians only through their consent with treaties involved three assumptions:

A.  Both parties to treaties were sovereign powers

B.  Indian tribes had some form of transferable title to the land

C. Acquisition of Indian lands was solely a government matter not to be left to individuals.

  1. What treaties between Washington tribes and the federal government exist?
  1. Have these treaties been honored? In what ways has the treaty been violated?
  1. To what degree did Washington tribes exert any agency in the treaty-making process?
  1. Federal policies, put into place throughout American history, have affected Indian people and still shape who they are today. Much of Indian history can be related through several major federal policy periods.
  1. How has outside impacted the Quinault’s ability to interact with the River as they see best?
  1. Students in Grade 5 and higher are ready to learn about federal policies concerning Indian people.  Place-based education does not exclude learning about the national context. 
  2. History is a story most often related through the subjective experience of the teller. With the inclusion of more and varied voices, histories are being rediscovered and revised. History told from an Indian perspective frequently conflicts with the stories mainstream historians tell.
  1. How do the ways the Quinault people define themselves (including their relationship to the land and the river) conflict with or complement the ways the dominant culture has defined them? This Essential Understanding is about perspectives on history.  For instance, you can have students compare the stories/history of the place from the Quinault perspective with the history written by European Americans.
  1. What responsibility do non-native people have to the river and perceptions of the land and its resources?
  1. Under the American legal system, Indian tribes have sovereign powers, separate and independent from the federal and state governments. However, the extent and breadth of tribal sovereignty is not the same for each tribe.
  1. Are these tribes currently located on reservations?
  1. Are these reservations situated in traditional homelands?
  1. To what degree does contemporary Washington boundaries infringe on traditional homelands?

Topics to be addressed (in no particular order)

  1. Definitions and deconstruction of the meanings of “place,” “land,” “private property,” “rights,” “reservation,” “indigenous,” “traditional ecological knowledge,” “history,” “oral history,” “point of view/world-view”
  1. Geography of Quinault River and basin.
  1. Examination of the 1855 Treaty of Olympia: establishment of the Quinault reservation and federal acquisition of most of the Olympic peninsula – consequences and implications.
  1. Study of Quinault and other coast-Salish peoples oral histories; comparison with written historical records of the region.
  1. The oral tradition of coast Salish/Quinault peoples.
  1. Traditional Ecological Knowledge; application to the region.
  1. Indigenous relationships to water: examine the story of the Elwha Dam and the Kerr Dam – a study in two different relationships with a river from an indigenous point of view.
  1. On site: Quinault River/surrounding area: outdoor orienteering and principles of leave no trace and respectful relationship the land.
  1. Interviews and/or site visits to the Quinault Reservation.


This course will take place over three school weeks: 8:10-3:30 M-F. Placement of topics and site visits is yet undetermined.


This is yet undetermined, but will involve reading, writing, research, presentations and site visits.

Assessment Plans

My school has not yet determined whether intensives will be individually graded or will be pass/fail and will involve an extensive narrative of each student’s participation. Students will be assigned nightly readings and brief research/writing activities. The culminating activity will be to hike a part of the Olympic peninsula and raft down the Quinault River in a several day trip, the details of which will be determined later.

Readings and other curricular materials (this is a tentative list, as my other teaching partners will contribute additional or different readings. This comprises my portion of the course’s readings)


Visual Media

Montana State University. A Dream for Water. VHS. Date Unknown.

Big Crane, Roy and Thompson Smith. The Place of Falling Waters. Pablo: SKC TV, 1982. VHS.

Gussman, John.  Return of the River. 2014. DVD.

McLeod. Christopher. In the Light of Reverence. 2001. DVD.

Poems/Short Stories

Cogo, Robert. “Eagle Brings Good Luck” Haida Stories. Anchorage: Bilingual Development Center, 1982.

Dauenhauer, Nora Marks. “How to Make Good Baked Salmon”

Haldane, Victor. “Moldy Collar Tip,” “Fish Story” Alaska Native Writers, Storytellers & Orators: The Expanded Edition. Eds. Breining, Jeanne. Anchorage: Univ. of Alaska Press, 1999.

Hogan, Linda. “Gentling the Human” Rounding the Human Corners. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2008.

Ortiz, Simon. “That’s the Place Indians Talk About.” Wicazo Sa Review. Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 1985): 45-9.


Bol, Marsha C. “Nature as a Model of American Indian Societies: An Overview.” Stars Above, Earth Below: American Indians and Nature. Ed. Marsha C. Bol. Niwor, CO: Robert Rineheart, 1998. 231-254.

Cajete, Gregory. “Philosophy of Native Science.” American Indian Thought. Ed. Anne Waters.

Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. 45-57.

Mazzocchi, Fulvio. “Western Science and Traditional Knowledge” European Molecular

Biology Organization. Vol. 7, No. 5 (2006): 463-66.

Mason, Larry et al. “Listening and Learning from Traditional Knowledge and Western Science: A Dialogue on Contemporary Challenges of Forest Health and Wildfire” Journal of Forestry. June 2012: 187-193.

Pflug, Melissa A. “Pimadaziwin: Contemporary Ritual in Odawa Community.” Native American Spirituality: A Critical Reader. Ed. Lee Irwin. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2000. 121-144.

Books (excerpts to be used)

McNickle, D’arcy. Wind From an Enemy Sky. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1988.

Nisbet, Jack. Sources of the River: Tracking David Thompson Across Western North America.

Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1994.


Montana OPI, IEFA materials:

  • “Essential Understandings Regarding Montana Indians”
  • “Birthright: Born to Poetry – A Collection of Montana Indian Poetry”

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes pub: “Explore the River: Integrated Multimedia Curriculum Framed by the Cultural Values of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille People” Pablo, MT. Date unknown.

Grant, Anne. “Traditional Ecological Knowledge: An Interdisciplinary Approach.” Diss. U of Montana, Missoula, 2015.