Kwakwaka’wakw Species (Animal and Sea Kingdom)

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Grade Level: Grade 4/5 (can be modified for Primary and Intermediate)

Activity: Students will observe the species found in the Potlatch Collection and the Kwakwaka’wakw territories.

Estimated Time: 2 periods

Prescribed Learning Outcomes:

  • Life Science: Habitats and Communities
    • Compare the structures and behaviours of local animals and plants in different habitats and communities
    • Identify the needs of all living things
    • Demonstrate awareness of the Aboriginal concept of respect for the environment
    • Describe Aboriginals peoples’ relationship with the land and natural resources
  • Human and Physical Environment
    • E1 Use maps to locate Aboriginal groups studied

Resources Required

Section of Website containing relevant information, photographs and film clips:

Blackline Masters:

Audio Clips:

Film Clips:

Kwak´wala Language Component:

New Words

Habitat - place that is home to an animal or a plant.

Food Chain - a food chain shows the feeding relationship between different living things in a particular environment or habitat.

Period 1

The Kwakwaka’wakw have built a rich culture that reflects and acknowledges the riches in the natural environment. The songs, stories, dances and ceremonial objects honour the animals, rivers, cedar trees, salmon, and all those things that help to sustain the Kwakwaka’wakw physically and spiritually.

Within Kwakwaka’wakw teachings it is believed that everything is connected. As mentioned in previous lessons maya’xala was shown to all living things. This can be seen by examining the masks in the potlatch collection. The majority of masks represent the animals found on land and in the ocean. It was commonly thought that many of these creatures are the relatives of the first supernatural ancestors of the tribes. Listen to the audio clip of Pauline Alfred talking about the Wolf, and the importance and respect shown to these creatures.

  1. Start the lesson by defining “habitat” as a place that is home to a living thing.
  2. Have the students close their eyes and imagine the habitat of a wolf. Have them imagine where the wolf would live, other things in the habitat, the non-living things in the habitat and any threats that may exist in the habitat.
  3. Have students repeat this process by looking at their own habitat.
  4. Compare our habitat to that of a wolf. Use BLM 8A.
  5. Review the Potlatch Virtual Tour and ask the students “By looking at the potlatch collection, what species do you think lived in the Kwakwaka’wakw territories?” Use BLM 8B to follow discussion.

Period 2

  1. Add to the habitat discussion by including the fact that a habitat must contain all things for survival of the living thing. Use BLM 8C to discuss the basic needs for survival of any species.
  2. Pose the following question: “How do you think the Kwakwaka’wakw meet their basic needs” Use BLM 8C.