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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

Southeast RavenLiving in a Fish Camp

Grades K - 5

City and Borough of Juneau School District

10014 Crazy Horse Dr.
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Department of Education
Title IV-A Indian Education Act
Grant #N008500191

*NO portion to be reproduced without the written consent of the Juneau Indian Studies Program.


Alaska is a very unique state with many distinct cultures. The third grade unit is designed to introduce students to the culture diversities found in Alaska.

After having a sound base of Alaska's cultures, the students focus on the Tlingit people of southeastern Alaska. Students are exposed to the Tlingit's complex social structure, their way of life and their main cultural celebration; the potlatch.

Through hosting a potlatch for the second graders, students develop an understanding of the Tlingit's relationship to one another and the great respect shown to each other.

Social Studies Emphasis: Introduction to Differing Groups



UNIT: Planning and Hosting a Tlingit Potlatch
Through role playing a Tlingit Potlatch students gain an understanding of cultural ceremonial practices, their art forms and their respect for Nature students expand their knowledge of the Tlingit people.

Day 1 Alaska's Cultures

  • Name the main Alaska Native Cultures and their locations


  • Color code cultures on a map of Alaska

Day 2 Tlingit Social Structure

  • Sense of identity
  • Respect for others


  • Tlingit social structure


  • Observation
  • Role playing
  • Listening skills
  • Participation

Day 3 Tlingit Clan House

  • Respect for others


  • Tlingit people live in clan houses
  • Tlingit people celebrate by having Potlatches


  • Reading aloud
  • Identifying artifacts and photos
  • Handling artifacts and photos carefully and with respect

Day 4 Potlatch Procedures

  • Respect for others


  • Planning


  • Listening
  • Identify what is expected of each student during our Potlatch

Day 5 Potlatch Gift

  • Traditional Tlingit colors
  • Natural Resources needed to make colors
  • Purpose behind making Potlatch gifts


  • Following directions
  • Listening
  • Patience
  • Coloring
  • Cutting
  • Pasting

Day 6 Learning a Potlatch Song

  • Types of songs and dances used at a Potlatch


  • Imitating a raven
  • Following directions
  • Listening
  • Keeping time to a drum beat
  • Role Play

Day 7 Potlatch Day

  • Tlingit people display pride and respect toward themselves and their guests during a Potlatch


  • Listening
  • Following directions
  • Polite ways of demonstrating likes and dislikes when tasting new foods
A Simplified Description

Potlatches are the most highly valued enterprise in traditional Tlingit culture. Even today, when people no longer live in clan houses and do not always follow the ancient marriage rules, a potlatch is still the most important thing a clan does.

A potlatch is more than a party or feast. It is given for a specific purpose and it has a specific form. It is given by one clan, and the guests are of other clans. Here's how it works:

Purpose or Occasion for a Potlatch

Traditionally, a potlatch was held when a new clan house had been built and needed to be dedicated, as a memorial feast for a recently deceased clan member, or as a rite of passage for a young person entering adulthood.

Nowadays, added to those occasions are the honoring of a past or present clan member, perhaps giving that person one of the traditionally owned clan names which are recycled generation after generation, and adopting non-Tlingits (usually spouses of Tlingits) into the society.

Translated into a classroom activity, a simulated potlatch could be given to announce the name of the class or classroom, to honor the teacher or formally introduce him or her to the

parents or guests, to display class projects or to formally introduce all class members to the guests.

Who Gives the Potlatch?

A potlatch is given by a clan--a large group of related people. In the old days, it was the house group which gave the potlatch, aided by other house groups within the clan. (In some cases, there was only one house for a clan; in others, the clan was so large that it had three or four houses. An individual was born into a certain house within the clan, and did not move from house to house.)

Clan membership comes from a person's mother. Whether boy or girl, the child is automatically a member of his or her mother's clan. The father is of a different clan (one could not marry within the clan).

In the classroom, clan membership can be simulated. All class members are "related" to one another for purposes of the potlatch. They should choose a name and a crest design to represent themselves. It would also be appropriate to tell the story of how the crest design came to be theirs at the potlatch.

Who Comes to the Potlatch?

Within Tlingit society, people are either Raven or Eagle. About half of the people are each. Clans are also either Raven or Eagle clans. Thus, a child inherits both the clan membership and the designation of Raven or Eagle from its mother. There are about 25 Raven clans and 25 Eagle clans.

When a clan gives a potlatch, it invites members of the opposite group. That is, if the clan is a Raven clan, all the guests would be Eagles, and vice versa.

The host clan decides which opposite clans to invite by remembering who has invited it to potlatches in the past. The potlatch is a sort of social obligation to those who have hosted you.

In the classroom, the guests, even if they are mothers of your students, must be considered of the opposite group. (Remember that a person's father, husband, brother-in-law are members of the opposite group in Tlingit society. It is, therefore, common and correct to have these people as guests at one's potlatch.)

Inform your guests of their group designation as they enter your room, perhaps with an information booklet to explain why, for purposes of the potlatch, they are not related to their children.

The Structure of the Potlatch

In the past, potlatches lasted four days. Nowadays, they are shorter, but have the same basic structure. The steps in planning and giving a potlatch are:

First, a clan must have worked hard enough to meet all its food, clothing, and shelter needs, and to have some surplus goods as well. Because a potlatch costs so much in time, food, valuables, and nowadays in money, this first step is crucial. Second, the clan invites the guests months in advance, telling them the purpose of the potlatch. All guests must accept the invitation.

When the guests arrive at the village or clan house of the hosts, the chief of each clan gives a speech complimenting and thanking his hosts for inviting him. The host then gives a speech welcoming and complimenting the guests. Then, one of the hosts introduces the guests (one at a time) and seats him or her in a prearranged location. Protocol and formality are important parts of Tlingit culture, and children learn early the proper forms of politeness and respect for others. These lessons are put to practice in the potlatch.

The potlatch then begins. The activities proceed in the following order:

1. First day: Guests are served food (great amounts of it) by members of the host clan. They don't have to get up to get their own food. Hosts then serve themselves. After the feast, the hosts dance for the guests, in doing so displaying clan treasures and explaining in song how they came to be the property of the clan.

2. Second day: The visitors dance for the hosts. These dances are also story-dances, representing some occurrence in the guest clans' histories.

3. Third day: Theatricals and contests between the clans are held.

4. Fourth day: Gifts are given to the guests by the hosts. Guests then depart.

The Gifts

In the past, the gifts given were coppers (large pieces of worked copper obtained from Athabaskans in the Copper River area) or slaves.

Nowadays, gifts are blankets, money, flowers, canned goods, soda, fresh fruit, scarves and clothing. The gifts are given to the guests according to their rank: highest ranking people (nowadays there aren't strict rankings, but people considered of highest status) are given gifts of the greatest value, and served first.

In the classroom, some handmade art projects, food, etc. can be given to the guests.

The Role of the Guests

Gifts are given to guests for two reasons: First, because the guest clans have each, in the past, given gifts to the hosts at potlatches of their own. And second, because the guests are performing a service for the hosts.

This service consists of being witnesses. In Tlingit culture, because it was traditionally an oral culture, social facts (such as marriage, naming, house building and ownership) were recorded in the public memory, not on paper. Guests attested to the fact that the claims or honors given by a clan had been legally made. In a culture where ownership rights were considered extremely important (similar to our own modern culture), it was vital that a group's claim to anything, from a clan crest or story to high status, be validated by other members of the society. This kept disputes over property to a minimum.

In the classroom, this validation by the guests comes in the form of acknowledging that the class is, indeed, named what the students wished to name it; or that the students have a right to be proud of their members and teacher; and so on.


1. Potlatches can only be given to people of the opposite side.

2. Potlatches must have a purpose related to the identity of the hosts as a unified clan: either displaying one's crests, thus asserting who they are, or honoring a past or present clan member.

3. The host gives gifts.

4. The gifts must be returned at a potlatch by the guest clans. There is no time limit, but in the past, six or seven years was considered ample time to reciprocate.

5. Enjoy yourselves!


Third Grade Lesson Plans

Unit: Planning and Hosting a Tlingit Potlatch
Lesson: Alaska's Cultures


  • 30 large pieces of (12"x18") construction paper to make "Indian Studies" notebook
  • Colored pencils
  • Globe of the world
  • Large language map of Alaska*
  • 30 Alaska maps


Xerox 30 small maps of Alaska for each student to label the main Alaskan Native groups.

* Available from the Indian Studies Office


  • Students will be able to orally define "culture"
  • Students will be able to list three ways that their "Western" way of life is different from the Tlingit way of life years ago
  • Students will be able to name at least three different Alaskan native groups

Introduction (Set/Purpose)

Show the globe of the world to the students. Explain to them that if they lived here 200 years ago, it would have been difficult to travel without modern ways of transportation. There were oceans, mountains, deserts, etc. that were added obstacles in traveling many years back. Therefore, people stayed in their own area and few explored beyond. People rarely saw others outside of their own "culture" and as a result, there was little outside contact or influence. People's cultures or their way of life remained intact.

Explain to the students that people all around the world have many ways that are similar to one another as well as many ways that are different. Ask the students how we are all alike and how we are all different. As they mention something, write it on the chalkboard. List around eight items on the board. Some of the items that the students often cover include language, housing, clothing, education, transportation, entertainment, celebrations, government, foods, physical appearance, etc.

Tell the students that culture is a way of life. It includes everything that they listed orally above. Place the word "culture" in a box on the chalkboard. Tell the students that they may be learning new words. The words that you would like them ~o remember will be in the box on the chalkboard.

Tack the Alaska language map up where the students can see it. Ask the students why they are fortunate to live in Alaska? You may get responses such as, it snows, the beautiful scenery, etc., but there is always one student who says that there is a culture here. Expound on that. Yes, we are fortunate to live in an area where there are unique cultures that still exist. There are many different Alaskan Native groups in Alaska and even their way of life is different from one another.

Activity (Instruction)

Pass out Alaska maps that are already labeled with the major Alaskan Native groups. Have the students refer to their small Alaska map as the instructor points out where the major Alaskan Native groups live on the large Alaska map. Say each group out-loud and have the students repeat it after you for reinforcement. Ask the students why there are many different names for Alaskan Natives. They always respond that each group has their own unique "culture".

Tell the students that we have gone over the names of the major Alaskan Native groups, but there are others. It would be too difficult to mention all of them so just the major groups are mentioned. To reinforce that there are different "cultures" in Alaska, have the students color each Alaskan Native group a different color. (Colored pencils should be provided to students who may not have any, along with a sign-out sheet so you get all the pencils back!)

Activity (Guided Practice)

Students will color their Alaska maps as instructed above. Walk around the room to monitor the activity. Some students may need help. Ask students to raise their hand if they need your help.

Activity (Instruction and Guided Practice)

Tell the students that they will be making an Indian Studies notebook. This is where they are to place all Indian Studies handout sheets.

Pass out large construction paper, fold in half and have the students write their name on the upper right hand corner. Have

them title it Indian Studies and let them know that their Alaska map should go into this notebook. (Students tend to lose their papers, so this saves a lot of time!)

Activity (Closure)

Review with the students. Ask them to raise their hand if they know the definition of "culture". What is unique about Alaska? Responses. Without looking at their small map, point to different areas on the large Alaska map and ask which Alaskan Native group lives there.

Activity (Independent Practice)

If students finish coloring their map or making their notebook, provide them with a Raven or Eagle design to color. These designs are labeled so the students will know what colors to use, etc. Later, students will learn about Tlingit designs and colors, but it is fine for them to color these pre-labeled designs before that learning takes place.

Alaska map
Click to see bigger image

Alaska map
Click to see bigger image


Third Grade Lesson Plans

Unit: Planning and Hosting a Tlingit Potlatch
Lesson: Tlingit Social Structure


  • Pictures of clan crests*
  • Map of Alaska's Native people*
  • Artifacts


Post map and clan crests on the wall

* Available from the Indian Studies Office


  • The students will be able to identify the two moieties, Eagle and Raven, and the clan crests under each
  • Students will be able to explain the meaning of crests
  • Students will explore the organization of clans within a village

Introduction (Set/Purpose)





Explain that once the Tlingit people were in southeast Alaska, they had an economic base and a specific social structure. Today we are going to look at the social structure of the people.

Activity (Instruction and Guided Practice)

Ask students who they consider as part of their family. You may want to list their responses on the board. Each of your students households may vary, so be aware of their attitudes.

The household of a Tlingit family many years ago was much different than today. In a home today you may have from 1-? depending upon many factors; some of which are how many grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins live with you. In a Tlingit clan house there was an average of 50 to 60 people.

Their household consisted of several extended families, including:


In Tlingit culture every person belongs to a moiety. This means every Tlingit is either a Raven or an Eagle.



The Raven and the Eagle moieties are then divided into clans. Every Tlingit is born into a group known as a clan.

Ask students if they know what a clan is?

Definition: A clan is a group of related families claiming descent from a common ancestor.

There are many clans under the Raven and the Eagle. People belonging to a clan have the same crest. For example, people belonging to the Kiksadi Clan have a frog as their crest.

Clan Membership:

Ask students if they know what it means to be matrilineal.

A Tlingit child receives clan membership from his/her mother. For example, if your father is Kaagwaantaan (Wolf) and your mother is Kiksadi (Frog), then you will belong to the Kiksadi Clan.

When a child receives clan membership from his/her mother, we say his culture is matrilineal. That means the clan is passed through the mother's (matri) line (lineal).

Ask students if they belong to a clan. If they do, ask if they will share with the class what clan they belong to and how they became part of that clan.

Can you think of any designs, crests or symbols that show you belong to a group? Give examples: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, baseball teams, etc.

Can you think of any designs, crests or symbols to show something belongs to you? Response. If you could design a crest for yourself, what would you use? Response.

Activity( Instruction and Guided Practice)

Every Tlingit person had a crest/emblem that tells who he is and what belongs to him. Many clans were represented by animal crests. Because every Tlingit person was born into a clan, he would have a crest... that of his clan.

The crests could be put on house posts, blankets, shirts, dance hats, boxes, canoes, paddles, etc.

Show artifacts and pictures of items with crests on them.

crest design
crest design
crest design
crest design
crest design
crest design
crest design
crest design
crest design
crest design


Teachers, if you want to expand upon the clan system lesson, you may want to have students bring artifacts of ancestors or bring their family crest, if they have one, to share with the class. Another suggested activity would be to ask students to complete, with the help of their parents, the following diagram:


family tree
Click to see bigger image

How many ancestors can you name?
Have your Mom and Dad help you.

Juneau Indian Studies Program 


Third Grade Lesson Plans

Unit: Planning and Hosting a Tlingit Potlatch
Lesson: Tlingit Clan House


  • 30 copies of In a Tlingit Winter House by Patricia Partnow*
  • "Lingit Aanee" poster of a Tlingit village*
  • Study prints of Tlingit clothing, interior and exterior photographs of clan houses, canoes, potlatch regalia, gifts given at a potlatch and native foods*
  • Artifacts (i.e., spruce root baskets, cedar bark baskets, cedar bark hat, halibut hook, mountain goat horn spoon, etc.)*

* Available from the Indian Studies Office


  • Students will be able to orally name a variety of items that belong in a clan house
  • Students will be able to verbally define a potlatch
  • Students will be able to verbally give reasons why potlatches were given
  • Students will be able to verbally summarize why they are giving a potlatch

Introduction (Set/Purpose)

Yesterday, we talked about the Tlingit social structure and how they showed their respect toward the natural resources. Today we will talk about their homes and their celebrations.

We are going to read a booklet about their winter homes. We need to pay close attention to what is mentioned in this booklet because we will discuss it afterwards.

Activity (Instruction and Guided Practice)

Pass out In a Tlingit Winter House. Read aloud, having students take turns reading. Afterwards, show the students the "Lingit Aanee" poster of a Tlingit village. Ask the students what is missing in this village's clan house? You get all kinds of responses, but there are always those who mention that the clan design is missing from the exterior of the house. Clue in on that. The booklet that they have just finished reading is about a stranger who comes to a clan house and no one is there. They

are all at fish camp. He really has no idea who could be living at this place because there is no clan design on the front of the clan house.

Explain to the students that these people in this village are from the Raven clan. They need a Raven design on the front of their clan house so everyone knows which clan they are from. We are going to pretend that we all are from this village. So we need to hire artists from the opposite clan to make our Raven design.

After the Eagle artists have made our beautiful Raven design, how can we thank them? You get all kinds of great answers. (i.e., make them a gift, give them some food, etc.) We can have a potlatch! Write potlatch on the chalkboard. Define the word potlatch: A celebration with food and gifts given away, singing and dancing, and speeches. Explain why potlatches were given; (i.e., to show honor toward the death of a chief, raising of a totem pole, and in our case, to celebrate the completion of our new house front Raven design.)

Briefly explain what took place at the traditional potlatch. (Tomorrow, the teacher will be describing in detail what the student's potlatch will include.)

Talk about the gifts that were given at the potlatches. Show photographs and the Indian Studies artifacts. Talk about how much work was involved in making the gifts and gathering and preparing the food.

Activity (Closure)

Tell the students that tomorrow we will be talking about their potlatch in more detail. There is a lot of work to prepare for our potlatch, so it's important that everyone help one another. We are all giving this potlatch so it's a group effort.


written by
Patricia H. Partnow


illustrated by
Jeanette Bailey
January, 1975



A Production of the
Alaska Bilingual Education Center
of the Alaska Native Education Board
4510 International Airport Road
Anchorage, Alaska



 in a Tlingit winter house

Two hundred fifty years ago the Tlingits were the only people who lived along the shores of Southeastern Alaska. If you could go back in time, you could visit them and see what life was like in "Lingit Aanee" long ago, before white people came.


in a Tlingit winter house

You would have to travel to one of the villages in a wooden canoe-the forests are too dense, and the mountains too steep to walk far on the land. You might travel miles and miles along the shore, around islands, across rough straits before you would see a Tlingit village.


in a Tlingit winter house

Then one day, you would come around a point and paddle into a quiet cove with a wide curving beach. And you would see, at the edge of the beach and out of reach of the tide, a row of big wooden houses with wide slanting roofs!


in a Tlingit winter house

You might paddle up to the shore, beach your canoe, and walk up to the row of houses. You would see that each one has a round opening for a door, and the opening is covered with a skin. Three or four steps lead from the beach up to the doorway.


in a Tlingit winter house

You might decide to walk around one of the houses. It is very large-large enough for 30 or 40 people to live in it! Its walls are made of wooden planks and its slanting roof is covered with squares of bark. The bark is held down with big rocks and logs.

 in a Tlingit winter house

As you walk around the house, you would see that there are no windows or doors on the sides or back. A tall log with notches cut in one side leans against one side of the house. And behind the house, you would see a cache built up high, out of reach of foxes, dogs, or wolverines. Behind the cache, you would see the forest-spruce, cedar and hemlock trees, tall and full.

in a Tlingit winter house

If it were fall, you might suddenly realize that it is very quiet in the village. You haven't seen a single person since you beached the canoe! You realize that everyone must be at fish camp, but you decide to go into one of the houses anyway. You won't bother anything inside, and you're sure the people won't mind if you just look around.

in a Tlingit winter house

First, you have to push aside the skin hanging in the doorway and crawl through the round hole.

in a Tlingit winter house

You crawl inside on hands and knees and blink. It is dark inside. As your eyes get used to the dim light, you notice that a bit of light is coming into the house from the ceiling. You look up and see a big hole cut in the middle of the ceiling. The hole is partly covered by a wooden board.

in a Tlingit winter house

You look down from the ceiling and notice that on the ground right underneath the hole there is a hearth, dug out of the ground and lined with stones. There are bits of charred wood and a few burned bones in the fireplace.

in a Tlingit winter house

You can see better in the dark room now. You look around and see that you are standing in a very big room. In fact, the whole house seems to be one big room. You are standing on a platform that is about three feet wide. The platform is made of wooden planks. It goes all around the house, and all along it you see stone and wood tools, wooden boxes, baskets, spears--the things that belong to the people who live in this house.

in a Tlingit winter house

There are rolled up deer and bear skins against the walls.

 in a Tlingit winter house

There are mats woven of thin strips of cedar bark hanging on the walls. Mats are also hanging across the platform in some places, dividing it into separate little rooms.

in a Tlingit winter house

There are strings of clam shell and dried fish hanging from the rafters, right under the ceiling.

in a Tlingit winter house

You walk along the platform, all around the house, and peek inside some of the wooden boxes. Some have dried fish or berries in them. Others have fancy skin or bark clothing. One box even has a suit of wooden armor in it!

in a Tlingit winter house

You keep walking along the platform. When you get to the back of the house, farthest away from the door, you look more closely at the back wall. It has carved and painted designs on it. And then you see, for the first time, that there is a round door in the middle of the wall! There must be another room through the door!

in a Tlingit winter house

You crawl through the round doorway into a room. There are more rolled up skins against the wall, more boxes and baskets filled with food, clothing, and tools. And there are wooden masks, and decorated sticks and huge wooden dishes with carvings on the outside too!

in a Tlingit winter house

You crawl back through the doorway into the main part of the house. You step off the platform onto the floor. The floor is covered with wooden planks, all the way to the fire pit. You notice some long wooden tongs, spoons, and some more boxes and baskets near the fireplace. 

You might begin to feel a little scared, being in such a big, dark house all alone. You might wish there was a fire in the fire pit, and people telling jokes and cooking meals and mending tools and making baskets. And if you are lucky, you might hear sounds of canoes landing on the beach and people returning home from their summer fish camps!

This is a pre-publication copy being distributed for purposes of field testing and correction only, not to be reproduced without the permission of the Alaska Bilingual Education Center.

Third Grade Lesson Plans

Unit: Planning and Hosting a Tlingit Potlatch
Lesson: Potlatch Procedures


  • Potlatch script developed by Austin Hammond (Tlingit elder)
  • Raven speaker's staff*
  • Example of a gift to be made for the second graders
  • Resource person for Raven Peace Song* 

* Available from the Indian Studies Office


  • Students will listen to the teacher explain the sequence of the potlatch that they are hosting
  • Students will be able to verbally summarize what is expected of them at their potlatch

Introduction (Set/Purpose)

Review from yesterday's lesson. Ask the students what a potlatch is. Why were potlatches given? Why are we going to host a potlatch? Do you remember which clan we will be representing? Which clan will the second grade class be representing?

Tell the class that we will be going over our potlatch script in detail today. We'll know what we should be doing the day of our potlatch.

We will need to have a chief from this class. The teacher determines who that will be. The chief should be a boy that is willing to memorize several lines and be able to speak in front of a large group of people.

Our chief will need to hire three Eagle artists to make our Raven House front design. After the design is complete, we will host a potlatch and invite the second grade Eagle clan.

Now, go over the potlatch script in detail with the students. Explain each step to the students. Explain that the hosts are responsible for preparing all of the food and they are to make beautiful gifts to give to the Eagle clan. Show the students the gift that they will be making for the Eagle clan...This can be a beaded medallion or paper medallion with an Eagle design on it, and Eagle mask, etc.

Activity (Instruction and Guided Practice)

Tell the students that before the potlatch begins, they'll line up single file. Then when the first person in line goes to the potlatch room, he or she will find button blankets along the wall. That first person must go to the first button blanket to put on. The second person in line will take the second button blanket and so on. (This prevents chaos.)

After putting on the button blanket, everyone will sit quietly while we wait for our guests to canoe to our potlatch.

Our Raven chief will be standing next to our Tlingit elder. As the second grade Eagles enter, their Nakaani will show everyone where to sit.

Then the speaking begins in the script. Read this to the class. Let them know that whenever one of the chiefs stomps his speaker staff three times, it means, "silence, I will speak now."

When the Raven chief asks his clan to serve food, have the third grade Ravens get in their single file. They get a plate of food to give away to the second graders. Again, the first person in line goes to the first second grader to serve their food, etc.

The third graders must remember who they served their food to, because this will be the same person that they give their gift to later during the potlatch.

After the third graders have served a plate of food, they get back at the end of the line and get another plate of food for themselves.

The Raven chief does not serve food. Also, make sure that the Tlingit elder, Tlingit singer/dancer, Eagle chief, the Nakaani, and the second grade teacher get served a plate of food, too.

Reinforce to the students that they may be trying new foods. Try it and if you don't like it, place it to the side of your plate. Don't make faces or noises, because this does not show respect!

After eating, the trash will be collected. Then, the Raven chief will tell his clan to give away the gifts. Remind the students to give their gift to the same person that they served the food to.

Then, the Eagle chief will thank the Ravens. At that point, the Tlingit dancer/singer will play the Raven Peace Song. The Ravens will sing and dance to this song. Tell the students that we are fortunate that a Tlingit will come and teach us this song. This song belongs to someone else and not everyone can teach this song.

Reinforce to the students that we need to show respect toward this person when they come into our classroom to teach us the Raven Peace Song.

After we sing and dance at the potlatch, our Raven chief will ask the Nakaani to give an extra special gift to the three second grade artists that made our Raven House front design. This gift can be magic markers, colored pencils, etc.

Then the Eagle chief will thank us for the special gifts. Our Raven chief will respond. Again, the Eagle chief will thank the Ravens. All the Eagles will stand up and say "Goonulcheesh", (thank you), in Tlingit.

At this point, all the Ravens should stand in their line and have their hands out. As the second graders leave our potlatch, shake their hand and say "Goonulcheesh" to our Tlingit elder, Tlingit singer/dancer, the adults that prepared the food and the parents.

Next, take off the button blanket and neatly fold it up and place it where you found it.

Activity (Closure)

After the potlatch, ask the students what they learned about the potlatch. Did they notice the amount of work that the Tlingits must have gone through to prepare for their potlatches?



1. Eagles arrive in their canoe, singing the Getting Ready Song.

2. Eagles put on dance regalia and enter, singing the Going In Song.

3. Nakaani seats Eagles along both sides of the room.

Raven Host - (asks Nakaani) "Are any more coming?"

Nakaani - "No, all are here."

4. Raven Host - "My dear Grandfathers, my fathers, my father's brothers, my aunts, I am glad you have come. All the people will see the Raven design that you have made for our house and we will feel better.

Eagle Headperson - "My sons, we wanted to do this to hold your name high, so the people will know that you live here. We will be glad, too, my dear sons."

5. Raven Host - "Ravens, please serve the food to the Eagle clan." (Everyone will eat, the Ravens serving the Eagles before they eat).

6. Raven Host - "We made these medallions for you so that you can dance with us. You can keep it to take home to think of us."

Eagle Headperson - "Goonulcheesh. We will think of you every time we wear our medallions and dance, my dear sons." (Ravens and Eagles will sing and dance the Raven Flirting Song).

7. Raven Host - "Grandpa (or our Tlingit elder) would like to say a few words now.

8. Raven Host - "Now we want to pay you for the Raven design that you have made for us. Nakaani, come here to pay our artists." (Nakaani will pass treats to the Eagle artists).

Eagle Headperson - "Thank you for what you have given us. We will enjoy it. Goonulcheesh."

9. Raven Host - "We know how you love us. You show us by your patience in sitting with us. And now it is your turn to speak."

Eagle Headperson - "Thank you for inviting us. We appreciate it. Now we will hold our head high when we see your new house front. The ones who are sitting here feel the same and I'm going to ask them to stand to say thank you." (Eagles all stand and say, "Goonulcheesh")

10. Eagles leave, singing the Going Out Song. (They shake the Raven's hands as they walk out).


Third Grade Lesson Plan

Unit: Planning and Hosting a Tlingit Potlatch
Lesson: Potlatch Gifts


  • The Bentwood Box by Nan McNutt*
  • 30 medallion designs and instructions*
  • 30 medallion kits*
  • For paper medallions: glue sticks, scissors, crayons or colored pencils
  • For beaded medallions: tracing paper, paper punch, marker


Depending upon class time, choose either the paper medallion kit which takes 1.5 days or the beaded medallion kit which takes 3 days. Prepare needed materials as stated in the instruction handouts.

* Available from the Indian Studies Office


  • Students will list the traditional Tlingit colors and how they were made
  • Students will label the basic northwest coast design elements
  • Students will make a gift to be given to a second grader at their potlatch
  • Students will practice their patience and sharing skills

Introduction (Set/Purpose)

Explain to the students that the Tlingits used only a few colors. They made white, red, black and blue-green from the natural resources. (Refer to Nan McNutt's book, The Bentwood Box.) One way that these colors were made was through the combination of salmon eggs with white clay or shells to produce white. Salmon eggs and charcoal or graphite to make black. Red clay and salmon eggs made red. The use of plants, berries, etc. were also used to produce dyes.

Then tell the students that the Tlingits used similar design elements throughout their art works. (Refer to Nan McNutts book, The Bentwood Box.) Draw these shapes on the chalkboard.

Activity (Instruction)

Reinforce the design elements by giving the students a Tlingit design to label the design elements. (Refer to handout sheet of a sockeye salmon, or gaat in Tlingit.) Also, have them write the Tlingit colors onto the same handout sheet.

Activity (Guided Practice)

Students will label the design elements on the salmon and list out the Tlingit colors.

Teacher Note:

Two medallion designs are shared on the following pages to offer you choice in consideration for the time available.

medallion design
Click to see larger image

medallion design
Click to see larger image

medallion design
Click to see larger image

medallion design
Click to see larger image


Third Grade Lesson Plans

Unit: Planning and Hosting a Tlingit Potlatch
Lesson: Learning a Potlatch Song


  • Tlingit resource person to teach The Raven Peace song and the dance movements that accompany the song
  • Drum and drumstick* 

* Available from the Indian Studies Office


  • The students will learn the history of one clan song and how it is used today
  • The students will begin to learn the words to The Raven Peace song and the dance movements that accompany it

Introduction (Set/Purpose)

Introduce the Tlingit resource person. Remind the students to show their respect. This song is owned by the Raven clan. Not just anyone can teach this song. You need permission from an eider to teach the song. We are fortunate to have someone come and share their knowledge with us. The resource person will be your teacher. This song is about a Raven flirting with an Eagle.

Activity (Instruction and Guided Practice)

The resource person will sing and the students will follow along. Then the resource person will demonstrate how the girls dance and how the boys dance. All students will try their skill at dancing. The teacher becomes the assistant for the resource person. The teacher will help whenever possible.

Activity (Independent Practice)

Tell the students to practice singing The Raven Peace song and practice their dance movements.

Activity (Closure)

Have the students thank the resource person for teaching them how to sing and dance.


Third Grade Lesson Plans

Unit: Planning and Hosting a Tlingit Potlatch
Lesson: Potlatch Day


  • A Tlingit elder to speak at the potlatch
  • A Tlingit singer/dancer to help with the songs
  • Adults to help prepare the native foods and to help pass out the food to the parents and guests
  • One large room -- larger than a normal size classroom, but smaller than a gym
  • Decorate the inside of the room with Tlingit artifacts, i.e., i.e., wooden platforms, varieties of furs to lay on the floors and on top of the wooden platforms, button blankets to hang on walls, fake fire pit with fake fish roasting, bentwood boxes, baskets, etc. (Refer to potlatch picture)
  • Decorate the outside of the room with the second graders' Raven design hung above the door. Use duct tape, scissors, and staplers to hang the Raven design and any other designs being used
  • Tlingit foods such as smoked salmon (prepared by the second grade class), berries, herring eggs, black or red seaweed, pieces of eulachon fish and halibut, etc.
  • An electric mixer to whip the soapberries, knife, cutting board, hot plate and pot to boil the herring eggs, a platter and a table to place the foods on
  • The food will be served by the third graders. The following is needed to serve the food: small paper plates for two classes, small paper cups and plastic spoons for the berries
  • Gifts for the Eagle artists (i.e., magic markers, crayons, etc.)


It takes two to three hours to decorate the potlatch room. It takes another hour to prepare the food for the potlatch.

* All materials are prepared by the Indian Studies Office


  • Students will participate in a potlatch
  • Students will learn to appreciate the concept of respect toward others, especially their elders
  • Students will taste different Tlingit foods
  • Students will sing and dance the Raven Peace Song
  • Students will give food to the second graders
  • Students will give a gift to the second graders
  • Students will observe what occurs at a potlatch
  • Students will listen to an elder talk about respect toward everyone and everything

Introduction (Set/Purpose)

Before the potlatch begins, remind the students that this potlatch is a time of respect. Ask them how we show our respect. Briefly, go over the potlatch script once more.

Activity (Instruction and Guided Practice)

Have the students put both the Eagle and the Raven medallions around their necks. Line students in one line with the leader in front. Dress the leader in a special button blanket, cedar bark hat and a speaker's staff.

Take the students to the potlatch room. Have them put on their tunics or button blankets and sit quietly while we wait for our guests to arrive.

Refer to Potlatch Procedures for detailed instructions of what is expected at the potlatch.

Activity (Closure)

Have the students thank their Eagle guests, parents, Tlingit elder, Tlingit singer/dancer and the adults preparing the food.

Students take off button blankets and neatly fold them and place them back where they originally found them.

Activity (Independent Practice)

Ask the students to write down their thoughts about the potlatch. Have them share this experience with their families.

Click here to see bigger image









Third Grade Resources

Available from the Indian Studies Program

Books for Students:

In A Tlingit Winter House, by Patrica Partnow, Anchorage School District
Lingit Aanee, by Patricia Partnow, Anchorage School District
Clan Rule Book, by Patricia Partnow, Anch. School District


Books for the Teacher:

The Bentwood Box, by Nan McNutt, The Workshop, Seattle
The People of the Totem, by Norman Bancroft-Hunt & Werner Forman
Objects of Pride, by Allen Wardwell
The Box of Daylight, by Bill Holm
The Tlingit Way of Life Long Ago, by Maude Simpson & Esther Billman, Sheldon Jackson Museum
Effective Practices in Indian Education, Teacher's Monograph, by Floy C. Pepper, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory

Study Prints:

Large language map of Alaska
Lingit Aanee poster
Tlingit clothing
Interior/Exterior of Clan House
Native foods

Other Resources Available for the Indian Studies Program:

Raven Speaker's staff
Drum and drumstick
Button Blankets
Fake fire
Fake fish roasting
Bentwood Boxes

Diskettes for use with Apple II or Apple III:

Alaska Natives the First People, Part Four, by Larry & Martha Stevens
Tlingit Clans, by Patricia Partnow, Anchorage School District

Resource People:

Contact the Indian Studies Program for assistance in finding people with experience as:

singers and dancers

Books for the Teachers (continued)

Any of the Christie Harris series (for retelling stories to children), Atheneum

Raven's Cry (Haida history)
Once Upon A Totem
Once More Upon A Totem
The Trouble with Princesses
Mouse Woman and the Muddleheads
Sky Man On the Totem Pole
Mouse Woman and the Mischief Makers
Mouse Woman and the Vanished Princesses

Video Tapes:

Salmon, Catch To Can, Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game, (Alaska State Film Library)
The Choice Is Ours, U.S. Forest Service (Alaska State Film Library)
The Shadow and the Spirit, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Haa Shagoon, Austin Hammond & The Chilkat Indian Association (Alaska State Film Library)
Potlatch To A Monument, Alaska State Film Library
First Americans' Emphasis Week, KTOO (Alaska State Film Library)


Potlatch People (16mm), Alaska State Library
Richard's Totem Pole (16mm), Alaska State Library

Cassette Tapes:

Recorded Raven Creation Stories
Recorded Tlingit Legends
Potlatch songs

Study Prints:

Photograph of a bark house
Photograph of a traditional Tlingit village
Photograph of the Whale House interior, Alaska State Museum
Canoes with sails photograph, Sheldon Museum, Haines
Photograph of Auke village (in town), Alaska State Museum
Photograph of Tlingits dressed for a potlatch, Alaska State Museum
Living by the Seasons, Juneau Indian Studies Program
Tlingit Clan Designs, Juneau Indian Studies Program

Other Resources Available from the Indian Studies Program:

Tlingit Winter House Parts
poles, 2x4's and cover cedar platform animal hides seal with removable insides seal oil lamp

Potlatch Materials:

  • Button Blankets and tunics
  • vests
  • feathers
  • fire materials
  • animal hides and skins
  • speaker's staff
  • cedar bark hat
  • feast dish
  • wooden potlatch
  • spoon
  • adze
  • model wooden canoe
  • bear mask

    Bentwood Boxes and strips for making boxes

    Clan design stamps

    Shadow Puppet Production Material

    Tlingit Foods:

    • seal oil
    • red ribbon seaweed
    • black seaweed
    • soap berries

Resource People:

Contact the Indian Studies Program for assistance in finding people with expertise as:

  • Historians
  • Singers & dancers
  • Grandparents with subsistence knowledge
  • Storytellers
  • Artisans

Teacher Overview
Teacher Summary
Lesson Plans/Handouts
Teacher Activity Worksheet
Resource Listing

Third Grade
Teacher Overview
Teacher Summary
Lesson Plans/Handouts
Teacher Activity Worksheet
Resource Listing

First Grade
Teacher Overview
Teacher Summary
Lesson Plans/Handouts
Teacher Activity Worksheet
Resource Listing

Fourth Grade
Teacher Overview
Teacher Summary
Lesson Plans/Handouts
Teacher Activity Worksheet
Resource Listing

Second Grade
Teacher Overview
Teacher Summary
Lesson Plans/Handouts
Teacher Activity Worksheet
Resource Listing

Fifth Grade
Teacher Overview
Teacher Summary
Lesson Plans/Handouts
Teacher Activity Worksheet
Resource Listing



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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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Last modified August 18, 2006