Community , Education

Osage lesson plans for educators available online

Grade school educators interested in teaching their K-12 students Osage history and culture can now find 57 lesson plans available online thanks to a project developed with input by Osage Nation officials and education professionals.

On Jan. 11, the Nation launched its Cultural Education – K-12 Lessons available to the public on its website which can be accessed for viewing and downloading from the “Cultural Education” section under the “Who We Are” tab at the top of the home page.

According to an ON news release: “This project was an offshoot of the 2016 Flint Hills Map & Education Program that placed museum-quality maps of the Osage Flint Hills in 17 Osage County schools. Debra Atterberry, who helped coordinate the project, assisted with placements and asked Coordinator Annie Wilson to include Osage Nation culture in the program’s online K-12 place-based lessons ‘so Osage youth can learn more about our rich culture.’ Wilson agreed and suggested the lessons reside on the Osage Nation website, with links on the Map Program’s website.”

On the K-12 Lessons website, there is a link to a 10-minute video titled Journey of the Osage featuring interviews with several Osages on the tribe’s history and four recommended books for the lesson plans and students' reading material. On the right side of the page are links to fact sheets describing historical events including Osages who danced ballet; Osages and education, boarding schools; the French fur trade; the Osage language; the Reign of Terror; and Osage ancestral lands and heritage sites.

For reading material, the lesson plans refer to plots from the books Meet Christopher: An Osage Indian Boy from Oklahoma; The Osage; Frybread for Addie; and Addie, Be Brave.

To create the lesson plans, Atterberry and Wilson enlisted several Osage cultural experts and education leaders to form a committee and spent 15 months to create the culture-based curriculum, the release said. “Our original goal was 12 lessons, but there were too many fascinating and inspiring stories. We cut it off for now at 57 lessons in 14 units, but we have a long list of additional topics we hope will eventually be added.,” Wilson said in a statement.

“We have a very unique and rich history to share, but it is also important to learn about the things we are currently doing and what we will be doing in the future,” said Atterberry, who is a former Osage County school teacher and now a strategic planning analyst in the Nation’s Office of Self-Governance and Strategic Planning.   

Mary Wildcat, director of the Nation’s Education Department, served as a co-chair on the committee creating the culture-based lesson plans. To the committee’s knowledge, the only other similar tribal-specific program in the United States is at the Chickasaw Nation; they have 26 lessons on the history of the Chickasaws, according to the release.

The Osage Classroom Lessons Committee includes Osages Atterberry, Wildcat, Dr. Andrea Hunter, Sarah O’Donnell, Addie Hudgins, Norman Akers, Jann Hayman, Alex Red Corn, David Webb, and Michelle Harding; and also Wilson and Emily Hunter Connell of the Flint Hills Map & Education Program, a project of the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, Kans.

The committee also acknowledges the assistance from other Osages and those working for the Nation including Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, Paul Tutty, Hallie Winter, Matthew Thomas, Jami Powell, Candy Thomas, Randy Tinker Smith, Alaina Maker, Vann Bighorse, Eddy Red Eagle, Jason George, Mindy Standley, the Missouri Culture Trunk Project, and many others who have assisted with the project.