This lesson was written in partnership with Dorena Martineau, the Paiute Cultural Resource Director, and Shanan Martineau Anderson, a member of the Shivwits band of Paiutes that specializes in Native American universal sign language as well as petroglyphs and pictographs. It 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 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.
Show slides 2-8 from the PowerPoint presentation to see how many signs and symbols the students can identify.
Teacher: We can use symbols and pictures to communicate ideas. Throughout history, many people have used images to represent thoughts. Some have even preserved images on rocks.
Show images in slides 9 and 10. Explain the difference between petroglyphs and pictographs (see slides for more information).
Explain that these pictures are considered ideograms. An ideogram is a symbol that is used to represent an idea, concept, word, or phrase. Instead of writing out a whole sentence using letters and words, you could communicate the same ideas by using ideograms. Ideograms can be understood even if people speak a different language, which makes them useful messages to leave behind. Native American picture writing, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Chinese characters are all examples of ideographic writing.
Show image of Rock Writing Panel (slide 11). Explain that some native tribes carved or painted ideograms as a way of telling stories from their lives and recording their history.
Show an image of Vandalized Rock Writing (slide 12) and address the importance of being respectful to others’ cultures and their history.
Show slides 13-18. Teacher: These images are examples of Paiute picture writing. Today, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah is a federally recognized Native American tribe. The Southern Paiute language doesn’t have words that are written; however, they have used another form of documentation where pictures and symbols were etched into or painted on rocks, known by the Paiutes as “storied rocks.” These images communicate the stories, history, and other aspects of life that those who created the pictures felt were worthy of the time it took to record on rocks. Storied rocks were created by many Native American tribes across North America. Even though their spoken languages were different, the universal images on the rocks were still understandable by various tribes. Now, because the Paiute language is being lost, those who can understand the stories on the rocks are trying to share their importance with others. This set of pictures was put together by Shanandoah Martineau Anderson, a Southern Paiute, to share how the Paiute symbols can be read today.
Show slides 19-21 for more information about the Paiute tribe.
The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah consists of five constituent bands, meaning they combine together to create a whole. Each band has its own logo or seal. A logo is a symbol or ideogram that is meant to identify an organization or group.
Show students the Paiute Logo images and explanations (slides 22-28).
Teacher: We see logos all around us every day. Here are some common logos that you will probably recognize. Show slide 29-33. Go over logo meanings.
Teacher: Today you will be designing your own logo. Your logo can represent yourself, your family, your class, school, or any other group that is meaningful to you. Before you start drawing your logo, let’s brainstorm some ideas.
Have students choose what they want their logo to represent. Then have them take a couple of minutes to reflect on the following questions:
Have students do the following:
Choose three words that they associate with themselves or their group and have them write each of those words in the middle of three separate sheets of paper. Direct students to create a word web by expanding on each word with additional words that relate (slide 35).
Organize the words into three columns (slide 36).
Cross off words that aren’t as useful in creating your logo. Then mix and match to make unexpected combinations (slide 37).
Choose the strongest combination. Sketch the combination in as many different ways and styles as possible. Try to simplify shapes and details (slide 38).
Choose your combination of styles and draw your final design in pencil (slide 39).
Inform students that the printmaking process will turn letters and other images backwards, into a mirror image. Students also should know that the marks that they make with their pens will eventually end up white on their print.
If you don’t have the time or the materials to do a printmaking project in your classroom, consider having the students color in their logos with colored pencils or markers.
Each band found it important to share the meaning of their logo. Have students write about the meaning behind their logo or give them an opportunity to talk about it with others.
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: Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
Images 2-26: Rachel Gonthier