Michigan curriculum developed from archaeological sites

NUNICA, Mich. (AP) — Information from two archaeological sites in western Michigan has been developed into new lesson plans for third grade and fifth grade students.

The Michigan Department of Transportation excavated the Ottawa County sites in 2011 and 2012, recovering artifacts such as pottery shards and stone tools dating between 350 and 800 years ago.

The ancestors of the Three Fires, an Anishinabek alliance of the Odawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomi tribes, created the sites. Excavations showed evidence that the areas were used for rice harvesting and fishing.

The department used the findings to create an educational curriculum called “Ancestors, Archaeology and Anishinabek: Bridging the Past into the Future.”

The department worked with 10 Native American nations in Michigan, state agencies, universities and private organizations to interpret the archaeological sites through the Anishinabek perspective.

“It’s the story of the Anishinabek people that we’re learning about in doing the excavations of these sites,” said James Robertson, an archaeologist with the department. “This whole complex of things is related to what we know prehistorically, historically and today about how the Native American tribes of Michigan look at wild rice and lake sturgeon — from a cultural, economic and a spiritual viewpoint. So, it is an opportunity to learn and better understand the heritage of Michigan’s native people.”

The lesson plans address stereotypes and misconceptions about Native American history and culture. The materials include information from tribal historians, educators and elders.

The two short curriculum units are available to teachers on the department’s website.