Into the Past: Native American Life on the Chesapeake Bay

Students will complete a close reading of John White’s “Indians Fishing.” Students will observe the artwork and record what they see as well as contextualize the artwork to be able to tell what is says about Native American culture when it was created. Additionally, students will be able to discuss how waterways were important to Native American culture using natural resource cards.

Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify cultural aspects of Native American life by completing a close reading of a primary source through the use of a capture and a summarizer sheet.



  1. Reread the Anchor chart on the easel. Discuss what a primary source is and discuss what sourcing is and why it is important.
  2. Display a copy of John White’s “Indians Fishing” on the ELMO. Have students look at it quietly and make observations. Discuss the sourcing of this artwork on the anchor chart. (5 minutes)
  3. SMALL GROUPS: Divide the class into groups of 3. Distribute copies of John White’s “Indians Fishing” to groups. Give students time to look at the artwork and record their observations on their capture sheet. (7-10 minutes)
  4. Circulate the room and act as a facilitator and elicit questions among the students. Ask the following questions: What do you see in this painting? Do you recognize and of these fish/shellfish? How many ways do you see the Native Americans catching fish? What else can you tell me about this painting?
  5. After about 7-10 minutes of observing, students will contextualize what they observed by listing 2 of 3 ideas about Native American culture. Then they will pose questions that they still have about waterways and fishing. (7 minutes)
  6. WHOLE GROUP: Students will write one thing they observed, one idea they contextualized, and one question they have on each sticky note and post it to the Observe, Contextualize, Question anchor chart. (7 minutes)
  7. As they are posting their notes to the chart, the teacher will distribute Natural Resource Cards. (1-2 per student)
  8. After the notes are posted, categorize/group them. (repetitive, animals observed, ways of fishing, etc…) The students should read and rehearse their Natural Resource Card while the teacher categorizes.
  9. Discuss the notes and field the students’ questions.
  10. Extension Activity/ Closure: Post the overheard article about natural resources in the Chesapeake Bay and read it to the class. (3 minutes)
  11. Use Popcorn Reading to have students read their resource card aloud. (Popcorn Reading Strategy- Read a card. Then say “Popcorn insert students name.” That student reads next and continues by saying Popcorn …
  12. Ask the students to name several ways the Chesapeake Bay was important to Native American culture.


Students will be assessed on what they learned and what surprised them. They will also identify questions that they still have about Native Americans and the Chesapeake Bay. Use this information to plan further instruction.

Pass out 3-2-1 summarizer and allow the students time to complete the assessment.


Virtual Jamestown,

Curriculum and Outreach, Sultana Projects: Preservation through Education,