Who were the Yaocomaco?

Students will be exploring the culture of the Yaocomoco Indians through the use of primary sources. They will use the information gained from these sources to complete the “Wheel of Culture” graphic organizer. Students will be using artifacts from the Maryland Historical Society Maryland Indians trunk, to supplement the materials suggested in the guide. In addition, students will use information from Father White’s journal to learn about the culture of the Yaocomoco.

Lesson Objective

Students will learn about the culture of the Yaocomoco Indians by using primary source documents and artifacts to collect information about several components of the Yaocomoco culture and completing an exit card.



  1. Day 1
  2. Introduce the lesson by giving some background on Father White, i.e. who he was and why he is being discussed (he recorded his observations of the Native Americans in his journal when he first came to the “New World”), and the significance of his journal entry being a primary source.
  3. Share copies of his journal entries with the students. After the brief introduction, read the excerpt aloud to them and discuss any words they do not understand.
  4. The students will then work together to note important information about the Yaocomoco.
  5. Then, the students will share their information as a whole group. During the sharing, discuss Father White’s perspective and if he was objective in his descriptions.
  6. Guide students to fill in the wheel of culture with the information that they gathered from reading Father White’s entry as a model for what they will be doing independently.
  7. Use the jigsaw strategy to have students explore various aspects of the Yaocomoco’s culture.
  8. First, place students into “expert groups” so that they can research an aspect of the Yaocomoco’s culture and use that information to fill in their “Wheel of Culture”. The expert groups will be as follows, “Foodways”, “Events”, “People” and “Shelter and Religion/Spiritual”. Each expert group will be given “Village Cards” (from the MHS trunk) as well as objects and their cards (also from the trunk). They will use these resources to fill in the following sections of the “Wheel of Culture”: Physical Features; Vegetation and Animal Life; Clothing, Tools and Technology; Human Features; Economic Activities; Government; Customs, Traditions and Language; Beliefs, Stories and Religion.
  9. Allow students to work on this activity for about 20 minutes.
  10. When students are finished, gather back together as a whole group to discuss the process. Ask the students if they thought it was a meaningful activity and why it is more important to use the actual materials and primary sources to gather information rather than reading an article or textbook.
  11. Day 2
  12. Ask students to leave their expert groups and work with their “teaching” groups to share information with the group members and “teach” them about their section of the Wheel of Culture.
  13. After all information has been shared, have the students discuss how the Yaocomoco adapted to their environment and how the environment influenced the development of their culture.
  14. Students will then complete a journal response independently detailing their discussion.


Ask students to complete an exit card that asks the question, “Name one fact about the Yaocomoco culture that you learned today. How did using the artifacts help you to learn about the culture?”


“Father White’s Briefe Relation.” Journal transcription. Maryland State Archives.
http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/speccol/sc2200/sc2221/000017/000005/pdf/pp41-45.pdf (accessed July 27, 2012).

Shoemaker, Sandy. Where Maryland Began … the Colonial History of St. Mary’s County. Leonardtown, MD: Printed by Heritage Print. and Graphics, 2000.

White, John. A Relation of the Colony of the Lord Baron of Baltimore, In Maryland, Near Virginia; A Narrative of the First Voyage to Maryland by the Rev. Father Andrew White. The Maryland Historical Society. Google book available online, http://books.google.com/books?id=sSnABp3B_lIC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=An+Account+of+the+Colony+of+the+Lord+Baron+of+Baltamore,+Andrew+White&source=bl&ots=ikA7ma7Ll2&sig=1PduGauqQ6HrbDWLaRzKkkXVW28&hl=en&ei=Y5zGTueHJsbJsQLM5dRO&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false (accessed July 27, 2012).

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