LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.


Hollywood movies have not accurately portrayed American Indians who lived in North Carolina. By researching and role playing the seven clans of the Cherokee, the false stereotypes will be replaced with factual knowledge and understanding.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will learn about traditional Cherokee festivals including the Green Corn Ceremony.
  • Students will research one specific clan of the Cherokee Tribe.
  • Students will participate in a class meeting, explaining the uniqueness of clan that they have researched to those assembled.

Teacher Planning

Time Required for Lesson:

  • One class for introduction, including a discussion of traditional Cherokee festivals and about Cherokee clans.
  • Several days of class for research and group planning.
  • One class for meeting and presentation.

Materials and Technology Needed

(The internet has many additional sites for this topic and your school’s media specialist may be able to assist you in identifying other potentially useful print and Internet sources for information.)


Teacher will divide class into seven clan groups. (Perhaps other teachers would join in the project.) Information about specific clans from the Cherokee Nation’s official website is included for student research.
Seven Clans:

  • Wolf (a-ni-wa-ya)
  • Deer (a-ni-a-ha-wi)
  • Bird (a-ni-tsi-s-qua)
  • Longhair (a-ni-gi-lo-hi)
  • Wild Potato (a-ni-go-da-ge-wi)
  • Blue (a-ni-sa-ho-ni)
  • Paint (a-ni-wo-di)


  1. Students work in groups researching what makes their assigned clan unique.
  2. Students explain the clan symbol.
  3. Students plan a speech to be given at the town meeting, sharing what they have learned with the other clans.
  4. Students will plan a festival in which their group might also volunteer to tell a legend, share information about a traditional craft, play a game, play recordings of authentic music, describe traditional dances, share information about musical instruments, discuss herbal medicines, tell about favorite foods, describe clothing or share what they have learned about Cherokee history and culture.
  5. Each of the seven groups needs to contribute to the celebration. To avoid duplication, the teacher may wish to assign each group to a different topic for the class festival or to ask the groups to provide their top three choices and then assign final selections based on those options.


  • Participation is the goal.
  • Sharing research is a necessary precursor.
  • Teachers can require a graphic organizer be completed by each clan.
  • Teachers can evaluate the presentations based on announced criteria.
    Explanation of clan50%
    Participation in meeting30%
    Attentive to peers10%
    Eye contact10%
  • Students will remember the Clan Meeting. The grade should add to the positive memory.


Having each clan make part of the logo shown on the cover of the book by Reed would be an artistic addition.


A “campfire” is a great visual effect. Use a plywood base; attach logs in a triangle fire-ready position; weave in white Christmas lights; plug in. The “campfire” sets the mood without the smoke! Using the Cherokee words would also extend the experience.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.C.1 Understand the impact of various cultural groups on North Carolina. 4.C.1.1 Explain how the settlement of people from various cultures affected the development of regions in North Carolina (languages, foods and traditions). 4.C.1.2 Explain how the artistic...
        • 4.H.1 Analyze the chronology of key historical events in North Carolina history. 4.H.1.1 Summarize the change in cultures, everyday life and status of indigenous American Indian groups in North Carolina before and after European exploration. 4.H.1.2 Explain...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 4

  • Goal 2: The learner will examine the importance of the role of ethnic groups and examine the multiple roles they have played in the development of North Carolina.
    • Objective 2.01: Locate and describe American Indians in North Carolina, past and present.
    • Objective 2.04: Describe how different ethnic groups have influenced culture, customs and history of North Carolina.
  • Goal 3: The learner will trace the history of colonization in North Carolina and evaluate its significance for diverse people's ideas.
    • Objective 3.02: Identify people, symbols, events, and documents associated with North Carolina's history.