This lesson was written in partnership with Dorena Martineau, the Paiute Cultural Resource Director, and was approved by the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah’s Tribal Council. Before teaching this lesson, please explain to your students that there are many Indigenous tribes in the United States and that this lesson specifically focuses on the five bands of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah and does not represent other Native American groups. It is the hope of the Paiutes that other native tribes will respect their choice to share these aspects of their history and culture.
Note: If you plan to split this into two 30-minute sessions, an appropriate breaking point is at the end of the introduction before the instruction/rehearsal.
Teacher: We are going to play a game called, “Stuck in an elevator.” I am going to put you into five groups. I will give each group a different genre, and you will brainstorm together how characters in that genre might manage to get out of a stuck elevator together. Each group will act it out, and the rest of class will guess what genre you are portraying.
Put your class into five groups and number the groups to reflect the order they will perform. If necessary, review the definition of genre: a category of art or literature that has similar themes, characters, style, format, and/or subject. Then, either verbally or on a slip of paper, give each group a genre from the list below, or feel free to come up with your own. Give the groups about five minutes to brainstorm and rehearse. Have the groups perform one group at a time. After each performance, have the students raise their hands to guess the genre.
Here are some genre suggestions:
Teacher: What was this experience like? What was difficult about this activity? What was easy? What did you like about another group’s performance? What were the similarities or differences between groups’ methods of escaping the elevator?
Likewise, many groups of people throughout history have felt unseen, due to the policies enacted by people in power, silencing their voices. Today we are going to learn about a group of Native American people, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, and explore what it was like for them to be without federal support, and then to receive it many years later. We will be performing a choral reading and then process drama activities in your same groups as the elevator activity, but this time, each group will represent a band from the tribe.
Show the class this image and point out the Southern Paiute tribal region.
Teacher: Here is the Southern Paiute region, located in the southwest corner of Utah. Picture what it would be like to live there. Use your imagination, or if you have visited this region before, tell us what the climate and geography is like. (It is a dry, desert climate.)
Teacher: The Southern Paiute traditionally call themselves “Nungwu,” (NOONG-WOO) meaning “the people.” Today, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah is made up of five bands. What do you think is the difference between a tribe and a band? A band is a much smaller group of people, mostly related. In comparison, a tribe is a larger group, sometimes comprised of smaller bands, which share a language along with basic customs and beliefs.
Hold up a map of Utah with the following towns/counties highlighted (see Equipment and Materials Needed section). Point to the corresponding towns as you watch Karma Grayman share part of a legend about the five bands. (View from 18:20-20:30)
Teacher: In the video, Karma Grayman, a Paiute elder, taught Paiute children about the five bands of the Paiute tribe. Raise your hand if you have been to any of these locations before:
Note: There is a phonetic pronunciation guide for these Paiute band names at the end of the choral reading.
Teacher: We will now do a choral reading of information to learn about the history of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. Choral reading is an interpretive reading of text by a group of voices. Students may read individual lines or stanzas alone, in groups or in unison as a whole class. Since the Paiute tribe contains five bands, we are going to arrange the class into five small groups to represent these five bands for this reading. Do you remember your groups from the elevator activity? These will be the small groups in the choral reading and the solos will be five individual narrators, one from each group.
Pass out the choral reading sheets to each student (see attached PDF). Have each group choose their narrator or select a narrator from each group yourself.
The teacher should do the initial reading. This will set the pace and model proper pronunciation for students as they listen. After the first reading, have the students do the choral reading all together as a class.
Teacher: What are your initial feelings about what we read?
Teacher: Has anyone heard of process drama? It is where you pretend to be in the world or scenario that we are studying. Based on the instructions I give, you will act as people, places, and things in that environment through improvisation. There are no scripts and no set performances. It is all simply a process to explore this setting as a class, so that we better understand and relate to it as we read and learn about history. Now, let’s begin.
Teacher: Sit with your groups from the elevator activity and I will give you a band name and the band’s logo along with a brief description that shares the meaning of different parts of the logo. As a group, decide how you will represent the logo and then make a tableau. A tableau is a still image made with your bodies, like a frozen sculpture. Each group will present these tableaux one at a time while a member of your band reads aloud the description on the paper and holds up the picture of the logo.
Have your class sit in their five groups. Hand each group one description paper for either the Cedar, Indian Peaks, Kanosh, Koosharem, and Shivwits band (print and pass out “Paiute Bands Tableau Information”). Give them 5-10 minutes to practice reading the information aloud and making the logo with their bodies through a tableau. They do not need to read the contact information on the documents. Gather the class together and have them continue to sit in their bands as the groups perform for each other.
Teacher: As a tribe, we all performed the same process drama activity of making tableaus. Now, we will perform three more process drama activities, and each band will take a turn. Continue to sit with your bands and I will call on your band when it is your turn to participate.
Activity 1: Creating a Place
Note: During this activity, you can use Paiute flute music to underscore the students’ acting and add depth to their experience. Little Sun in the Blue Sky by Shanan Martineau is an approved Paiute album and can be found on YouTube. You could also use nature sounds from a sound effects website that fit with what is being described (brush being gathered, water flowing, and so on.)
Teacher: Our first activity is called “Creating a Place.” To better understand the Paiute people, we are going to represent aspects of their tribal ways in southwestern Utah before westerners arrived, and then when settlers began to come onto their land. As you silently act these settings out with your bodies, I will simultaneously share facts. I will also hold up pictures to help you.
Activity 2: Soundscape
Teacher: After white settlements were built and reservations were created, there came more hardship for the Paiutes. We will explore aspects of three periods: early reservation, termination, and restoration using a process drama activity called soundscape. In a soundscape, we only use our voices or the sounds our bodies can make to create the sounds expressed in a specific location or event in time. As you make sounds, listen to your group. Add new sounds or shift your sound to explore all possible aspects of place. You could also use short phrases of spoken text in addition to sounds. All bands will stay where they are. I will call on each band to begin making the soundscape. Each band will perform three times.
Round 1 (Early Reservations):
Round 2 (Termination):
Round 3 (Restoration):
Teacher: What was this experience like? What was easy? What was challenging? What was your favorite sound to listen to and why? How did making the soundscape help you picture the setting and these important moments in Paiute history? What were the feelings you had when you performed Round 1 (Early Reservations)? Round 2 (Termination)? Round 3 (Restoration)?
Activity 3: Class Tableau
Teacher: As we explored the restoration phase of Paiute history, we showed the tribal nation’s restored sovereignty. They were able to govern themselves through their recognized tribal council. The separate bands joined together to create the unified Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. Here is a picture of their Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah logo.
Teacher: We will now create an entire class tableau. This won’t be a tableau of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah logo, but will instead show how the Paiute people felt as they were again granted federal recognition. To do this, physically move together and create a frozen picture symbolizing the individual bands joining together to form one federally recognized tribe. Decide your actions based on the feelings the Paiute people might have felt at this time. All bands will need to work together and be ready to create the tableau in fifteen seconds.
Activity 4: Role on the Wall
Have the students gather on the floor.
Teacher: Our final process drama activity is called “Role on the Wall.” On the whiteboard, I am going to draw an outline of the state of Utah. Take a few minutes to silently think about why you feel it is important for Southern Paiute history to be taught as a part of Utah history. How does it benefit your knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for the people of Utah? How have the process drama experiences from today created meaning for you?
Pass out sticky notes and pencils to each student.
Teacher: On your own, come up with a word or phrase that shares your main take-away from what you have learned about the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah and why that idea is important for us today. Write your word or phrase on the sticky note, and then come put your word inside the outline of Utah. Watch how I do my own example.
Model writing on and placing sticky note within the Utah outline on the board.
Give the students a few minutes to brainstorm and write on their sticky notes and attach them to the board. Then give the class time to read what each individual wrote inside the outline of Utah. Have the students sit down for the concluding discussion.
Teacher: What are your observations about what other students wrote on the wall? When we started this activity, we played “Stuck in an elevator” with groups representing different genres. Now your same groups represent bands within the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah that felt unseen, and now have federal recognition once again. But does having federal recognition mean that everything is perfect and easy for the Paiutes? Why or why not? How did the process drama activities–Tableau, Creating a Place, Soundscape, and Role on the Wall–help you better understand and relate to these real experiences, both in the past and present, of the Paiute people? How might these activities and knowledge affect you in the future?
Optional Extension Activity: Use the resources found in “Additional Resources” to further study the history of the Southern Paiute, the geography of the Southwestern United States, or important people and legends in Paiute culture and history. Then have students give reports on their findings, focusing more intently on the specific standards outlined in the Social Studies Core.
This lesson can be used to meet standards in many grades and subject areas. We will highlight one grade’s standards to give an example of application.
This lesson was created thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Utah Division of Arts & Museums
Images 1, 2: The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
Image 3: https://pixabay.com/photos/elevator-a-beautiful-view-building-939515/
Images 4, 5: Curtis Soderborg
Image 6: James Huston
Image 7: Emily Soderborg
© Brigham Young University and Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah