Wolastoqiyik: People of the Beautiful River

Section One: Project/Lesson Overview

Grade: 12

Subject: Geography

Lesson Title: Wolastoqiyik: People of the Beautiful River

Lesson Description: Provide students with an understanding of the culture and lives of Wolastoqiyik. Students will gain an appreciation of First Nations traditional culture and way of life.

Time required: 1 x 60 minutes

Specific Curriculum Outcomes:

  • Understand the origin and diversity of rocks. 
  • Identify, describe and explain the processes that shape the earth’s surface. 
  • Demonstrate how these processes create specific landforms. 
  • Identify and explain the origin of selected local landforms. 
  • Gain a greater appreciation and understanding of Wolastoqiyik and their history, culture, and conditions

Section Two: Project/Lesson Implementation

Equipment/Materials Required: Access to Shaping the Landscape content

Lesson Procedures/Teaching Strategies:

Impart the following using resources indicated:

  1. Wolastoqiyik have survived in this region since time immemorial. Their connection to the land is evident through their knowledge of its landscapes and medicinal uses of the plants. Discuss the estuary of Wolastoq: animals, plants, people, communication, travel, etc. Make special note of any special land forms or geographical changes in the landscape from the beginning of the river to its mouth. 
  2. In Robert M. Leavitt’s book, Maliseet Micmac: First Nations of the Maritimes, he discuss four broad time periods for this region. These are: the Early Period (10,600 – 6,000 years ago), the Middle Period (6,000 – 3,000yrs ago), the Late Period (3000 – 500 years ago), and the Historic Period (500 years ago to present). Have students find the sub-periods of these four and the defining description of each. 
  3. Each period offers archaeological evidence of a certain region of the Maritime’s that was inhabited from the coast to the inland. The story, Koluskap and the Giant Beaver, offers an oral history account of all the territories where Wolastoqiyik live and have names for in their language. 
  4. When meetings were held often a Talking Stick or Eagle Feather was passed around so that each member of the community, while holding the stick or feather, could offer their opinion on a particular discussion. And great pride was taken in Wolastoqiyik stories. Oral history was the way in which the knowledge was passed from generation to generation. The knowledge of the land is evident in the Wolastoqey names for various landscapes as illustrated in the story, Koluskap and the Giant Beaver. Have students read the story and discuss the various land features, place names, traditions and other history recounted. 
  5. Using the image of the giant beaver tooth, explain that the story also makes clear the development of certain landscapes through the efforts of Koluskap to protect man from animals that were so large that entire landscapes were changed in altercations with these almost mystical creatures. 
  6. The stories, Koluskap and the Giant Beaver and Koluskap and the Giant Skunk, offer oral histories that clearly demonstrate Wolastoqiyik have been here at least as long as animals that were once as large as dinosaurs. The stories also offer evidence of the evolution of animals and landscapes over time. Re-read the stories and have students identify the land forms and places mentioned in each story. 
  7. Wolastoqiyik travel and use of the landscape changed based upon seasonal climates and resources available. They also maintained communication with other groups of Wolastoqiyik and the neighbouring Passamaquoddy, Mi’kmaq and Penebscot. This interaction allowed for trade of differing types of stones that made creating certain tools easier. Have students examine a modern map of the Saint John River system and discuss a comparison of modern transportation and communication routes with the historical methods of Wolastoqiyik. 
  8. The flood zones of Wolastoq make certain landscapes uninhabitable during the spring. Flooding also creates erosion of land that uncovers some artifacts and takes others away with its waters. Have the students identify flood zones and land masses affected by them. Examine the Shaping the Landscape images for evidence of the affects of flooding and the regular flow of the river. 
  9. Dr. Susan E. Blair, University of New Brunswick, conducted an analysis of various archaeological excavations and studies of ancient Wolastoqiyik landscapes and offers a glimpse of the lives of our ancestors. This archaeological confirmation enhances the evidence of Wolastoqiyik presence from the beginning demonstrated in the storytelling and oral history tradition. 
  10. By examining the artifacts found at numerous areas around Wolastoq, Blair identified a “record of habitation and domestic activity spanning more than 2000 years.” However, those dates are derived from specific sites used in her research; other sites offer artifacts dating as far back as 8000 years. Some of the artifacts found are arrowheads, flakes (bi-product from making arrowheads and other stone tools), as well as ceramics just to name a few. Radiocarbon dating is used on charcoal from fire pits or hearths found in sedimentary layers that were excavated. 
  11. Archaeological evidence often has gaps in the timeline. Discuss various reasons for this: erosion of flood plains, lack of excavations in certain areas, other movement of landscapes, etc. Given the archaeological gaps, underline the importance of the stories in the history and culture of Wolastoqiyik.

Based upon the points above, content from the Shaping the Landscape Learning Object, and their own additional research, have students compose a 500 word essay that addresses the following questions:
• What evidence exists for the shaping of Wolastoq land forms and the presence of Wolastoqiyik? oral history, storytelling tradition as evidenced in Koluskap and Giant Beaver and Giant Skunk stories; ­ archaeology, excavations, artifacts
• What reasons could account for gaps in the archaeological timeline?
­ lack of archaeological excavations; ­ erosion of flood plains; ­ plate tectonics
• What is an estuary and what is its significance? has salt water and fresh water; has extensive plants for medicinal purposes and for food; extensive use of river system and development of trail system for survival, transportation and communication

Suggested Assessment Strategies:
Use standard performance-based assessment tools.

Section Three: Project/Lesson Resources

Supplementary Resources:
Blair, Susan E. The Ancient Wolastoq’kew Landscapes: Settlement and Technology in the Lower Saint John River Valley, Canada.
Leavitt, Robert M. Maliseet & MicMac First Nations of the Maritimes.

Web-Based Resources:

Disclaimer: The recommended web-resources included here have been scrutinized for their grade and age appropriateness; however, contents on links on the Internet change continuously. It is advisable that teachers preview all links before recommending them to students.

Marie Perley, Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation), New Brunswick
c. 2007
New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

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