Parading through the Palisade

The lesson is a hands-on introduction to the people of the Eastern Woodlands region and their culture. It begins with video footage of how the tribe lives and continues with an analysis of pictures, prints, and artifacts where the student becomes the historical investigator, discovering the secrets to the culture of a pre Colombian tribe and answering the question: Who were the Piscataway People? This lesson combines visual, auditory, tactile skills to engage the student population in the lesson.

Lesson Objective

Students will be characterizing the culture of the Piscataway tribe of the Eastern Woodlands through the analysis of artifacts, fact sheets, and video clips by successfully completing the Wheel of Culture.



  1. Background Knowledge: Students have already completed one wheel of culture for the Yaocomaco (as described in the MCPS 4.1 Social Studies Guide. That was a step by step, guided practice. Today, students will be completing a Wheel of Culture within their table groups, another step towards their independent research project on a Native American group.
  2. In this lesson, start by playing the video, Inside a Piscataway Palisade. This video is roughly 15 minutes and uses pictures from Jefferson Patterson’s Native American Day as well as audio clips from the cell phone audio tour provided from the park. This serves as an introduction to warm the students up.
  3. Explain to the students that they are going to become investigators today, searching through history and specifically looking at some items that were left behind by another culture. Hand out the Investigator’s Kit and give students time to analyze the artifacts inside.
  4. Circulate between the groups and ask probing questions such as:
  5. Sourcing Questions for the tools: Where do you think it is from? What is the purpose for these tools? What type of design does the palisade have?
  6. Close Reading: What do you see? What is it made of? Is it more function or design?
  7. Contextualization: How might someone use this information? Based on your knowledge of the Eastern Woodlands, why is this necessary? What use do we have for objects like this?
  8. Repeat the process with the “Pictures” of the natives and the “Written Word.” As teacher circulates, ask students historical thinking questions including how the item represents the people who had it? Why was it important to the Piscataway? Why did they use something like this?
  9. Depending on the reading level of the students, the written sources could be reviewed as a whole group or in a small group.
  10. As students discuss and investigate the kits and documents in small groups, they should be recording their findings on the Wheel of Culture.
  11. Finally, pass out the fact sheets for students to review. Teacher should save the fact sheets for last because the primary sources and artifacts allow the students to investigate and use critical thinking skills to interpret and form their own opinions about objects. The fact sheets are more straight-forward to reaffirm what the students have uncovered on their own.
  12. After the students finish the hands-on investigation, there are some optional extensions:
  13. The first is a YouTube clip of Governor O’Malley officially recognizing the Piscataway People in Maryland. There is a transcript of this in the students written sources. It is an interesting two and a half minute clip that shows the excitement in the voice as Natives celebrate the recognition.
  14. The second is Mervin Savoy discussing the recognition and its importance for the Piscataway people. After each of these two clips, students can discuss the government recognition.
  15. The third source, Piscataway member Rico Newman, discusses what it was like for him growing up as a native.
  16. Following these video clips, students can discuss the role that culture still plays in the lives of Natives today and why they feel it is important to be recognized for their cultural heritage. Conversation can deepen as students reflect on the importance of their own culture and heritage in their lives.
  17. All links are included in a PowerPoint (Parading through the Palisade) for easy reference.


Students will be assessed based on their successful completion of their Wheel of Culture for the Piscataway People. An exit card can also be used asking: What can you tell about the Piscataway people based on the clues that they have left at their home site? This question is open ended enough that answers can vary while being focused on the Piscataway people; it creates the opportunity to earn an “exceeding standard” score, going above and beyond proficiency. (When this question is phrased, be careful of saying “…based on the clues that they left behind” because it could allude to the fact that the Piscataway people are no longer with us, when in fact they just earned recognition from the state government.


Blaine, Laurel. “Student Activity Plan.” Thinkport: Think Education. Think Maryland. Accessed March 15, 2013.

Maryland’s Earliest Natives. Accessed March 14, 2013.

Office of the Governor, Official Recognition of Piscataway Tribes, A. (Md. 2012). Accessed March 14, 2013.

Piscataway Indian Museum. Last modified 2012. Accessed March 14, 2013.

White, John. Indian Village of Pomeiooc. Illustration. 1600s. Accessed March 14, 2013.