Strata: Portraits of Humanity, Episode 1, “Sailing Canoe”

StrataImage-webWe are pleased to bring you “Sailing Canoe,” the first documentary from our partner Archaeological Legacy Institute’s new series, Strata:  Portraits of Humanity. This monthly half-hour video series is available online and on select cable channels. Strata is a showcase for unique and diverse stories about the world’s cultural heritage. Stories come from across the globe with segments produced by Archaeological Legacy Institute and dozens of producer and distributor partners around the world.

“Sailing Canoe” follows the efforts of people across Micronesia to re-learn the art of sailing canoes.  It traces the connections of people from Guam and Rota to Yap and the outer islands of Micronesia that once were connected by long-distance canoe voyages.  Modern development has affected each island differently and each struggles in its own way to maintain its ancient heritage.  From the most urbanized islands to the most remote and traditional, the art of sailing canoes survives through the efforts of a few knowledgeable people.

Click on the image below to view the documentary on The Archaeology Channel and scroll down to see the curriculum developed by AntiquityNOW to accompany “Sailing Canoe.”

Sailing Canoe

*Produced in 2014 by Archaeological Legacy Institute, Copyright 2014 by Archaeological Legacy Institute


Lesson Plan

canoe clip artObjectives

  • To introduce students to the concept of cultural heritage
  • To demonstrate to students the ways that cultural heritage relates to the individual and his/her sense of belonging in a society
  • To help students develop an understanding of how a sense of legacy affects the individual and his/her society, and how cultures deal with recapturing that legacy when ancient and modern practices conflict
  • To present to students the ways that people try to rekindle elements of their past
  • To promote language arts in expressing an original idea
  • To encourage cross-cultural understanding of concepts and ways of thinking

Student Outcomes

  • To think critically about the role of tradition to the individual and to a cultural identity
  • To grasp the importance of cultural preservation: what it is, why it is important, what can be done by individuals and by societies to preserve their histories
  • To evaluate and think critically about consequential events surrounding cultural preservation: What can be gained, what can be lost and what safeguards are necessary to preserve a history
  • To use storytelling and art to offer unique perspectives of cultural values

Project Idea #1

  • Concept– Research general concepts of cultural heritage
  • Materials– Historical journals, textbooks
  • Activity– Make a list of what elements create a culture’s heritage (e.g., myths, music)

 Project Idea #2

  • Concept– Consider why people form cultures
  • Materials– Research articles about how and why early humans lived in groups
  • ActivityGroup Activity: Create your own island culture. What would you eat? What would be your creation mythology? What kind of clothes would you wear? What is your religion? What tools do you have? What kind of rituals do you have? Present your culture to your class.

Project Idea #3

  • Concept– How did the people in Sailing Canoe express their culture?
  • Materials– Watch the video and review history and social studies research
  • Activities
    • What were the identifying elements of their culture? Think about how they dressed, their tattoos, music, dance, cave art. Make a list and review the links.
    • What elements define your culture today?

Project Idea #4

  • Concept– Why were the canoes built the way they were?
  • Materials– Research ancient methods of sailing
  • Activities
    • Draw a picture of the canoe shown in the documentary.
    • How were the ancients able to construct water craft that could sail such long distances? How did they know about navigation? How does their knowledge compare to what we know today about navigation?

Project Idea #5

  • Concept– Why is recreating the ancient canoes important to these modern islanders?
  • Materials– Research in social studies and psychological journals and texts about the emotional and psychological attachment people have to ancestral and cultural elements
  • Activities
    • Think of adjectives that would describe what it would be like to sail in these ancient canoes.
    • In the documentary what are some of the reasons that the islanders look back to ancient times? Do you think about your ancestors? Make a family tree for yourself and see how many generations you can list.
    • What is an heirloom? Do you have any from your family? What do you think about keeping a piece of your ancestral past?

Project Idea #6

  • Concept– Why did the Spanish burn the long distance canoes?
  • Materials– Same as Project #5.
  • Activities
    • Write a short story about how it might have been to sail the canoes and travel long distances. What would you think if you came upon Spanish explorers for the first time? Were they strange-looking to you? What happens in your story once the Spanish arrive?
    • Using pictographs (that is, pictures such as drawn in caves) to depict the islanders’ culture and what happened when the Spanish arrived

Web links:

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