Home / Getting to Know Us / Students Explore and Create Native American Artifacts at Gateway Charter High School


Students in Ms. Brown’s research class have finished a unit on Native American life. Last week, students were exploring the relationship between available technology and Native American Music, creating home-made “rain makers.” This week, students extended that connection into Native American daily life by exploring one of human cultures oldest skills, the making of baskets. Students were first given a basket frame which they all painted, and a set of beads they could use to decorate their basket. Students learned that in some cultures, beads are used as money, since they represent a class of material that is rare, being naturally found only in a few special places. Rarity, students realized, increases value. So students were given the opportunity to model Native American Trading behavior by exchanging beads, both within their “tribe” (their group in class) and with other “tribes” (with other groups). Their interactions with each other introduced them to some of the challenges faced by those using an economic system like this! Once they had their beads, they were shown how to weave a basket. They learned that practice makes perfect, and that even a “simple” technology like weaving a basket can be very time consuming. But every student was proud of their work, and they noticed how all of their baskets looked different, and how each could be theoretically traced back to its specific maker (something archaeologists find often in their study of artifacts.)