Copies of "Museum Indians" by Susan Power, a computer with a projector (optional), drawing paper, pens, pencils, paper, old magazines, scissors, and glue.

Objectives (based on the North Carolina Standard Course of Study):

  • The student will reflect and respond expressively to texts so that the audience will:
    • discover multiple perspectives.
    • consider cultural or historical significance.

1. Ask students if they have ever been to a museum and if they have, to share an experience. Then ask: "What is the purpose of a museum?" "What kinds of materials are in a museum?" For homework the previous night, you could also ask students to bring three or four belongings that represent who they are for a show and tell.

2. If you have a computer projector, visit several museum web sites and give students a brief overview of what they might find in each location. If you do not have a projector, you could use museum book, magazine or brochure. For the purposes of this lesson, the following museum web sites are most instructive:

As you browse each collection, ask students to respond to the following questions on a sheet of paper:

  • Describe this artifact.
  • Why do you think this piece is in a museum?
  • What does it tell us about the culture that this artifact represents?
  • Does this artifact leave you with any questions for further research?
3. Explain that "Museum Indians" is an essay by Susan Power, who grew up in Chicago in a Native American household. Her frequent trips to local museums with her mother often inspired stories about their heritage and, at times, left her feeling confused.

4. Read "Museum Indians" as a class or ask for a student volunteer. While reading, students should write down a list of images they encounter. For example, Susan Power describes the "snake" in her mother's drawer.

5. After reading, ask students to share images they documented. Discuss the significance of these images. Emphasize the mother's reaction to seeing family treasures in the museum and ask students to react. Ask them what personal items they think might be a museum in the future to represent their own culture.

6. Distribute drawing paper, crayons, markers, old magazines, glue and scissors. Ask students to make a collage of images that they feel represent who they are.

7. When students have completed the collage, ask them to post their work on the wall. Then, ask students to walk around the room to view each other's work.

8. Ask students to write a one-page reflection about what they learned from the work of their peers.


The collage and reflection can be graded for completion and effort.

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