In the Classroom

Lesson Plans

Bill Reid: Exploring Identity


This lesson is intended for use following an introductory lesson about the First Nations of British Columbia. For background information on the First Nations of British Columbia, see Muckle, 1998.

To review, point out Haida Gwaii on a globe and a map. Haida Gwaii is the traditional home of the Haida. It is an archipelago of about 150 islands in the Pacific Ocean, about 100 kilometres off the British Columbia coast. In the 1880s, the Kaigani Haida moved north to the Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, where they still live.

Using a wall map, or an Internet map, and a globe, show the traditional Haida territory, the territory of their neighbours and trading partners, the Tsimshian, the Tlingit and the Kwakwaka’wakw, and their trading routes.

An online map can be found at Note that there is a link for a larger map, and that a paper version can be ordered from Crown Publications.

A map of Haida Gwaii can also be found at

Lesson One: The Environment and Seasonal Activities

Step One: Overview

The traditional Haida territory was rich in food, both from the land and sea. The Haida were fishermen, sea hunters, land hunters, gatherers and preservers. At low tide they gathered shellfish, clams, gooey ducks, rock scallops, abalone, huge crabs and razor clams, and octopus. They hunted seals, sea lions, sea otters, and birds, gathered seagull eggs and seaweeds, and picked many different kinds of berries, including the extensively traded salal berry.

The Haida developed sophisticated tools and techniques to take advantage of their rich environment. They used halibut hooks, harpoons, weirs, fish traps, and nets made of bark and roots. Inland, they used animal traps, bows and arrows.

Their land had the tallest cedar and spruce trees on the coast, and they found many uses for wood. They built monumental houses with planks forty feet long, four inches thick and three feet wide. They used bark and roots for weaving fine hats and capes, and they cut, carved and steamed wood into massive ocean-going canoes, and “bentwood boxes” which they used to carry and store food and possessions.

The Haida flourished on the coast for more than 9,000 years. To learn more about the vast array of tools and technologies they used to harvest food from the sea, see Hilary Stewart’s profusely illustrated book, Indian Fishing: Early Methods on the Northwest Coast. Michael Kew, in his introduction to Stewart’s book, reminds us “fishing was a connection between humans and the spirit world, never simply a matter of creating tools out of woods and bone, then putting them to work.” (Stewart, 1977: 8).

Traditional Haida society was stratified into three categories: the nobles, the commoners, and the slaves who were captured in raids. This division was reinforced by the ceremonial distribution of wealth and food in potlatching and feasting. The economy was based on two seasons: summer and winter. The summer season was for food gathering and preserving. Meat and berries were smoked to preserve them, made into cakes, and piled in wooden boxes to be eaten later, given as gifts, or traded. This great abundance of food was part of the wealth of individual families and the community.

The winter season was for coming together and sharing food, rituals and ceremonies at great feasts called potlatches. Invited guests received gifts, and those who held the potlatch gained status. At the potlatch, families wore or displayed their crests and in doing so, showed off their wealth and gained more status in the community.

An important symbol of material wealth was the Copper, an object made of copper and shaped like a shield. Coppers were owned by high-ranking Haida who displayed them, and sometimes gave them away, at potlatches.For more information on the importance of Coppers to Haida culture, refer to Activity Four, Step Two, of the Grade Nine lesson plan.

In the winter ceremonies, the Haida would receive names and crests. When a young Haida reached a certain age, a ritual would be performed and they would receive their first tattoo to show their identity.

Step Two: Suggestions for class discussion

Ask students to give examples of material and non-material wealth of the Haida.
Ask students to give examples of non-material wealth in their own families.

Review the seasonal activities of the traditional Haida. For each of the following activities, ask students which are summer or winter activities, or both:

  • making berry cakes
  • building houses
  • travelling for trading
  • displaying crests
  • travelling for socializing
  • feasting
  • singing, dancing and drumming
  • repairing fishing nets
  • telling stories
  • carving canoes
  • receiving names
  • gambling and playing games
  • hunting animals
  • getting a tattoo
  • smoking meat
  • gathering berries
  • giving gifts

Ask students to think of activities that they do only in the summer or winter. Do they do anything in the summer to prepare for the winter? The class could create a chart of activities to discover if they have any seasonal activities in common.

Ask students to imagine that a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or other relative is going to give them a tattoo for their next birthday. This tattoo is being given to them because it represents their family and will be a permanent sign of their identity. What do they think it would be? Students can design their own tattoos to present to the class.

Lesson Two: Crests and Identity

Step One: Overview

Families, family identity and history are very important to the Haida. Having no writing system prior to contact with the Europeans, their history was, and still is, based on oral tradition, using visual symbols, called crests, to tell the story of who they are and where they come from. The Haida wear crests on their clothing and jewelry, and decorate their possessions such as button blankets, houses, canoes, containers, Coppers and totem poles with crests. Children inherit their crests and their right to use them from their mother.

Traditional Haida society was organized around two matrilineal groups (moieties), Ravens and Eagles, and subdivided into clans, each headed by a chief. Haida children inherited their moiety and clan from their mother. Their moiety determined what name (or title) they could bear, what crest they could wear, whom they could marry, where they could fish, hunt and gather, and what songs and stories they could tell. Ravens had to marry Eagles and vice versa.

Haida society was made up of aristocracy, commoners, and slaves who were prisoners of raids. Chiefs and their relatives had many crests, commoners had very few, and slaves had none.

Before the first Europeans arrived on Haida Gwaii in the 1770s, there were more than 10,000 Haida. By 1862, more than ninety percent of the Haida had been wiped out by smallpox and other diseases. By 1900, only about 350 survived. Besides the effects of disease brought by Europeans, Haida culture suffered other effects of colonialism, including racism, political oppression, stolen land, residential schools, and loss of language and skills.

But Haida people are resilient. While several aspects of the Haida culture suffered more than others, the crest system has remained strong and important and is still used today.

Step Two: Family name research

One way to think of how a person’s identity can be visually represented is to think of a sports uniform. The emblems on the uniform are decorations that will clearly tell you what group a person belongs to, if you can ‘read’ the symbols. If a person participates in a sports event, and receives a medal, badge or other recognition of their achievement, they can display it on their uniform or around their neck as a reminder to everyone of the part they played in that event. The story of the event becomes part of their identity. The event also becomes part of the history of those who attended and witnessed it. In traditional Haida society, the memory of the event is kept alive by telling and retelling it in story, song and dance.

Every student has something that is part of their identity, that is unique to them, but everyone else in the class knows what it is. What is it? (Their names.)

Have students research the meaning of their names, by interviewing family members and doing research on the Internet. Some Internet sites about the meaning of names also show family crests that represent a family name and history. Point out that family crests are designs that represent the identity of a family. Students could create a class chart of last names that come from identifiable locations, occupations, families (for example, ‘Johnson,’ a shortened form of ‘John’s son’), and cultures.

Step Three: Bill Reid’s crests

Bill Reid wore a necklace with a Wolf crest that he carved from yew wood. This was his family’s crest. His mother was a Raven from the Wolf clan, and through her he inherited these crests. Bill Reid created many pieces of art with the Wolf crest and many more with the Raven crest.

Using a computer with an Internet connection, projector and large projector screen:

  • Show Bill Reid’s Wolf Pendant, in the “Jewelry” category of the virtual gallery.
  • Show examples of Bill Reid’s art with the Raven crest from all three categories of the virtual gallery: “Sculpture and Containers;” “Paintings, Prints and Drawings;” and “Jewelry.”

Step Four: Suggestions for class discussion

Name or describe three or more works of art with a Raven design that were created by Bill Reid. (“Raven Steals the Light,” “The Raven Discovers Mankind in a Clam Shell,” “The Raven and the First Men,” Raven bracelets, brooches, etc.)

Name three or more different materials that Bill Reid used to create his Raven designs. (Pencil and paper, wood, gold, silver, onyx, etc.)

Name three or more different processes that Bill Reid used to create his Raven designs. (Carving, painting, printing, engraving, etc.)

What are some similarities and differences in the pieces? Ask students to explain why they may prefer one piece to another.

Many of Bill Reid’s bracelets were created using a technique called repoussé. To extend the lesson, show the video on the first page of “Bill Reid’s Art: A guided journey,” which shows Bill Reid at his workbench, using this technique (2:24).

Bill Reid made a number of carvings that illustrate the story of “The Raven Discovering Mankind in a Clam Shell.” He made a very small boxwood carving, only 7 cm high, in 1970.Show the photo of this carving, in the “Sculpture and Containers” category in the virtual gallery, and then the photo of Bill Reid holding it in his hand, in the “Photo Biography” section of this website.

Ten years later he made a very large version, 2 metres high, out of yellow cedar.
Show the photo of this carving, “The Raven and the First Men,” in the “Sculpture and Containers” category in the virtual gallery, and then the photo of Bill Reid with his sculpture, in the “Photo Biography.”

Ask students which they think would be harder to carve, and why. Which one would they make first?

For a further discussion of crests see the Grade Nine lesson plan. In it, James Hart of Haida Gwaii, who carved the “Celebration of Bill Reid Pole” using Bill Reid’s important crests, explains why crests in general are important to the Haida, and which ones held special meaning for Bill Reid. You may choose to listen to some of the audio of James Hart speaking on this topic.

Lesson Three: Crest Animal Identification

Step One: Review resources

  • Hilary Stewart describes many of the crests of the Northwest Coast First Nations in her book, Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast, which contains many illustrations and examples.
  • Cheryl Shearer gives more detailed explanations but with fewer illustrations, in her book, Understanding Northwest Coast Art.
  • The virtual gallery includes many examples of crest figures in Bill Reid’s art.
  • The “Crest Animal Features” worksheet is included in this lesson plan.

Step Two: Virtual gallery visit: Bill Reid’s animal crests

In the previous lesson, students looked at examples of Wolf and Raven crests on some of Bill Reid’s works of art. In this lesson, students will look at examples of other crest figures in the virtual gallery. In the nineteenth century there were at least 100 different crests being used by the Haida. There were crests of animals, plants, insects, features of the landscape, and natural phenomena like the sky, rainbow, sun, moon and stars. Bill Reid used many different crest figures in his art.

Hand out the student worksheet, “Crest Animal Features.”

Using a computer with an Internet connection, a projector and projection screen, show images of the animal crests that Bill Reid designed using the conventions of traditional Haida art, in the “Paintings, Prints and Drawings” category of the virtual gallery,

  • Haida Beaver – Tsing
  • Haida Eagle
  • Killer Whale
  • Haida Grizzly Bear – Xhuwaji
  • Thunderbird
  • Haida Dog Salmon
  • Grizzly Bear Panel
  • Haida Dogfish – Xaxada
  • Eagle Jacket
  • Wolf Drum
  • Haida Raven – Xuuya
  • Haida Wolf – Godji

In traditional Haida art, the body parts of animals have special characteristics that can be used to identify the animal. Point out the various body parts and prominent features. Help students identify each animal by looking for these features. Have students write each animal’s name beside its prominent features. Have students work in pairs to review their answers. To extend the lesson, have students work together to create and analyze a chart of features.

Crest Animal Features

Write the name of one of the Haida crest animals beside its prominent features.
Thunderbird, Raven, Wolf, Killer Whale, Bear, Beaver, Eagle, Dogfish, Frog
  Short, squared ears, big nostrils, big teeth, tongue sticking out and down, hands like claws
  Two big front teeth, cross-hatched tail, short ears, rounded nostrils
  Long snout with flared nostrils, lots of large, sharp teeth, tall ears, hairy tail
  Large head, round snout, large mouth, many teeth, blow-hole, dorsal fin, tail with symmetrical flukes
  High domed forehead and turned down mouth, sharp, triangular teeth
  No ears or small ears, shorter beak than Raven, beak curved down at the end, tongue showing
  Long, straight beak turned down at the tip, usually a tongue, folded wings
  Great outstretched wings, curled plumes on top of its head, sharply curved beak
  Large mouth, thick lips, no teeth, flat nose, feet with toes, bent legs, no tail
What prominent features can you imagine for a dog, a cat
or other animal you know?

Printable PDF file

Crest Animal Features – Teacher’s Answer Sheet

Bear Short, squared ears, big nostrils, big teeth, tongue sticking out and down, hands like claws
Beaver Two big front teeth, cross-hatched tail, short ears, rounded nostrils
Wolf Long snout with flared nostrils, lots of large, sharp teeth, tall ears, hairy tail
Killer Whale Large head, round snout, large mouth, many teeth, blow-hole, dorsal fin, tail with symmetrical flukes
Dogfish High domed forehead and turned down mouth, sharp, triangular teeth
Eagle No ears or small ears, shorter beak than Raven, beak curved down at the end, tongue showing
Raven Long, straight beak turned down at the tip, usually a tongue, folded wings
Thunderbird Great outstretched wings, curled plumes on top of its head, sharply curved beak
Frog Large mouth, thick lips, no teeth, flat nose, feet with toes, bent legs, no tail

Lesson Four: The Oral Tradition and Transformers

Step One: Myths and crests

The Haida have a rich oral tradition of stories and songs connected to their crests. When a Haida person adopts a crest, such as a Wolf for instance, it is not because they are like a Wolf, but because they or their family or ancestors have had an encounter with a Wolf spirit. The story of such an encounter would be told and retold through crests and other art, dances, stories and songs.

Some stories are about the spirits of humans, animals or features of the natural world. On ceremonial occasions the stories are told, songs sung, special clothing worn, masks danced, identity witnessed and confirmed, and gifts given to the guests who were invited to witness these events.

Stories and songs, like crests, are owned by individuals or families. Some can only be told or sung by their owners. Family myths, which tell of how a family came to settle in its current location, how they came to own certain places to fish, hunt, and gather berries, and how they got their family privileges and power, can only be told by the family. In this way a family remembers its roots and passes this knowledge on to the next generation.

Myths about the creation of the world and the origins of people and their customs as well as the landscape, plants and animals can be told by anyone.

The myth stories told of a time when the boundaries between animals and people, spirits and humans, were not well defined, and when the ancestors came down from the sky and had encounters with mythical animals. The Haida believe that they are descended from the Supernaturals.

When Bill Reid was in his twenties, he visited his mother’s village in Haida Gwaii where he met one of the most gifted Haida storytellers, Henry Young, who told him many Haida stories. Henry Young was in his eighties at the time. By the time (many years later) Bill Reid realized how important those stories were, Henry Young had passed away. Bill Reid retold some of those stories in his book “The Raven Steals the Light,” which he dedicated to Henry Young. Many of these Haida stories were the inspiration for Bill Reid’s artwork.

Step Two: “The Raven Steals the Light”

Some Haida stories are about transformers who change into different forms at will, sometimes to get out of a jam after they have behaved badly. The best-known transformer in Haida culture is the Raven, who is also a trickster.

Read the story “The Raven Steals the Light,” (from the book of the same name) out loud to the students. Bill Reid drew the illustrations for the stories, which he and Robert Bringhurst wrote.

While reading the story, show the students “The Raven Steals the Light,” the drawing that illustrates the story, from the virtual gallery, or from the book. (The drawing is on the book cover and page 18.) The complete story and illustration are also online at

Step Three: Transformer stories and illustrations

“The Raven Steals the Light” is an example of a transformation story, in which one being transforms into another at will. Animals could become humans or other beings; humans could become animals or other beings.

Ask students to create their own transformer drawing and story. Students choose an animal from the list on their “Crest Animal Features” worksheet, and imagine they can transform into that animal. Students draw their transformation figure in mid-transformation, when they are part human and part animal, using some of the characteristic features of the animal they choose from the list.

Students will then write a paragraph below their drawing, describing:

a) why they transformed. What happened before they started to transform?

b) what they did when they transformed, that they couldn’t do before

c) how it felt to transform

d) the pros and cons of transforming back into a human

Display the artwork and have students share their art and the accompanying stories.

Lesson Five: Crests and Bracelets

Step One: Haida bracelets

In traditional times, items of jewelry or personal adornment were few. Necklaces of shell and bone, and copper bracelets, earrings, nose rings, and labrets (only worn by noble women) as well as hair styling and clothing, were the only personal signs of decoration.

The Haida traditionally wore crests tattooed on their skin. When missionaries banned traditional customs, including tattooing, the Haida started to engrave family crests on bracelets more often. Copper nuggets were used at first, but after gold and silver coins were introduced along with iron tools, these were used instead. The material changed but the meaning remained the same.

In traditional Haida society, bracelets were a sign of wealth and status. The more bracelets you had, the wealthier and more important you were in the community. Wealthy families gave out bracelets to all their guests during potlatches, increasing their rank and prestige in the community.

Step Two: Virtual gallery visit: Bill Reid bracelets

There are many components of cultural identity, including family, history, gender, race, religion, nationality, ethnicity and language and location. In Haida society, family history told through stories is the most important aspect of identity. Family history is also remembered and told through songs and dances, and in the decoration of cultural objects including jewelry and bracelets, which were worn by both men and women.

As Bill Reid learned more about his own Haida heritage and the conventions of Haida art, he carved bracelets with traditional crest figures on many bracelets in silver or gold.

Using a computer with an Internet connection, a projector and a large projection screen, show students Bill Reid’s bracelets from the “Jewelry” category of the virtual museum.

They include “Nanasimget”, Grizzly Bear, Bear, Eagle, “Salmon and Bearded Man”, Split Eagle, Beaver and Eagle, “Mythic Messengers” and “Moon Woman”. Each one illustrates a mythical figure, and each mythical figure has a story.

In one bracelet, Bill Reid combined two of his family crests: the Raven and the Wolf. Show students the bracelet. Can they identify the two figures?

Haida crests are about differences (we are from this family, not that family, we are Ravens or Eagles, not the other), similarities (we are all Haida) and connections (even though we are from different families, we all share Supernatural ancestors and a common heritage, location, language, and culture).

A person’s identity is also shaped by the things they do and create. As Bill Reid learned more about his Haida heritage, he went on a long journey of discovery about his own identity in which he was inspired by Haida culture and created many unique works of art.

In the next lesson, students will be asked to think about their own family stories as important components of their individual identity, and to create a design on their first bracelet that expresses their identity.

Lesson Six: Visual Arts Activity – Bracelets

Step One: Introduction

Explain to students that in this lesson they are going to create two bracelets.

For their first bracelet, which they will keep, they will use a crest of their own design, based on family stories, to express their personal identity.

For their second bracelet, which they will give away at an event (Step Five), they will use a crest of their own design based on the natural environment.

Step Two: Planning the first (personal identity) bracelet

Hand out a “Bracelet Planning” worksheet for each student.

Students choose a story

  • Students think about their own family history and stories, or alternatively, important events in their own lives, a favorite person, place or thing, a pet, or an accomplishment with which they identify.
  • Students write two sentences about each family story or alternate choice. Tell students they will be sharing these stories later with the class.

Students choose a design

  • Students think of a design to represent each story, and make a small sketch of each on their “Bracelet Planning” worksheet.

Students hold a circle brainstorm

  • Number students off in two groups. Have Group One students form one circle and then turn facing outwards. Have Group Two students form another circle on the outside looking in at Group One.
  • Each student should now have a partner with whom they can brainstorm, their “Bracelet Planning” worksheet, and a pen or pencil to write down words that will be suggested in the brainstorm. Students write their name and group number on their worksheet. They will use this group number in the circle brainstorm, and in the sharing event in Step Five.
  • Remind students to be respectful of other people’s stories and ideas.
  • Ask Group One students to speak first. They will tell their partner their first story. Their partner will brainstorm with them to suggest ideas for symbols that could be used to represent the story. Group One students record their partner’s suggestions, using one or two words, on their worksheet.
  • Then Group Two students share their first story. Group One students respond with their ideas for symbols, while Group Two students note them on their worksheets.
  • After students have completed this sharing, the Group One circle rotates clockwise so each student has a new partner.
  • Students tell their first story one more time, receiving and noting their partner’s suggestions.
  • Repeat the process. Students rotate two more times, telling their second story and noting suggestions both times.
  • When students have had a dialogue with four different partners, have them return to their seats.

Students sketch and choose designs

  • Students create a rough sketch for each of the one-word suggestions they have noted on their worksheets.
  • Students refer to their worksheets and think about their design options.
    They may choose to use their original ideas, their classmates’ suggestions, or a combination of ideas.
  • Students make a rough sketch of their chosen design for each story on their worksheet. If students need more space for their sketches, they can use extra sheets of paper, but need to remember to keep them all for their display and event in Step Five.
  • Students choose one of the two designs to reproduce on their first bracelet.

Through this exercise, students gather information, receive suggestions that add to their design options, and learn there are many different ways to think about and represent a personal story.

Step Three: Planning the second (gift) bracelet

Now that students have experience with their tools, materials, processes, and solving design problems, their second bracelet should turn out even better than their first.

Bill Reid was an active and prolific artist for over fifty years. Imagine how many design problems he solved in that time! Not all his designs worked out, but during his career he never stopped experimenting, learning and refining his skills and understanding of art in general and Haida art in particular.

Students can choose from many different options when designing their second bracelet. Here are some starting points for choosing a design. Invite students to do one or more of the following, or suggest their own ideas:

  • Create a design inspired by the natural world: sun, moon, stars, rain, snow, rainbow, clouds, mountains, oceans, plants, insects, animals or other beings in the natural world.
  • Create a design featuring a crest animal, using one or more prominent characteristics from the “Crest Animal” worksheet.
  • Create a design inspired by the transformation story, “Raven Steals the Light,” or rework your original design, showing a different stage or point of view in the transformation.
  • Create a design representing the circle of the seasons or seasonal activities of you and your family, or a traditional Haida family.
  • Create a design based on one of Bill Reid’s designs that you saw in the virtual gallery.
  • Create a design based on the name research you did.
  • Create a design for an identity tattoo that represents you and your family history.
  • Create a symmetrical design by engraving on the tinfoil with it folded in half.

Students choose which kind of design they are going to make, and draw a rough sketch of it on a separate worksheet, rather than on their “Bracelet Planning” worksheet, which will later be part of a display (so that they remain anonymous gift-givers in Step Five).

Bracelet Planning Worksheet
Name: Group:
First Story: 2 sentences

Second Story: 2 sentences

First Story: Words and Sketches Second Story: Words and Sketches
Brainstorm Circle

Brainstorm Circle

Brainstorm Circle

Brainstorm Circle

Final Design

Final Design

Printable PDF file

Step Four: Making the bracelets

  • Teacher: Three boxes to collect the bracelets -- one labelled “Group One,” one labelled “Group Two,” one unlabelled; a roll of heavy tinfoil; extra cardboard tubes for emergencies; photocopied pages of pre-drawn rectangles if choosing to supply them.
  • Students: Drawing paper, pencils, rulers, scissors, cardboard tubes, tinfoil, ballpoint pens; their completed “Bracelet Planning” worksheets.
  • Collect a cardboard tube for each student. You may want to ask students a week or two in advance to bring the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper or paper towels.
  • For each student, cut a piece of tinfoil about 10 cm x 30 cm (4 in x 12 in).
  • Prepare ahead and photocopy, or have students use a ruler to draw two rectangles about 5 cm x 12 cm (2 in x 5 in), on a sheet of drawing paper. Cut out the rectangles.
  • Fold the tinfoil in half by bringing the short sides together, creasing the fold, and then opening the foil up again and cutting along the fold line. Cut the piece of tinfoil in half to make two pieces about 10 cm x 15 cm (4 in x 6 in).
  • For each bracelet, centre one paper rectangle on one piece of tinfoil and push a pen into the tinfoil to mark the corners. Using a ruler, join the dots to create a rectangle on the tinfoil.
  • If using a short cardboard tube, cut it in half crosswise to make two tubes about 5 cm (2 in) wide. Then put one of the scissor blades inside the tube and one outside, and make one cut straight up the length of each tube. They’ll get a little squashed but try not to flatten them. You may get 3 or 4 bracelets out of longer tubes.
  • Referring to their sketches on their “Bracelet Planning” worksheet,” students draw their designs on the cut out paper rectangles first, and then either copy or trace them, using a ballpoint pen to ‘engrave’ on the tinfoil.
  • A note about tools: This engraving could be done with pencils or short wooden skewers, but if they are too sharp they will tear the tinfoil. Better results can usually be obtained with pens as long as they also are not too sharp, and don’t put out too much ink. You may want to distribute extra tinfoil so students can practice their pen technique before engraving their bracelets. Encourage students to move their pens slowly, and press lightly, at least at first. Deep carving was valued by the Haida. If you also want to ‘carve’ more deeply, try heavier tinfoil, more layers of tinfoil, and experiment with putting cardboard of varying thickness and density under the tinfoil when you are engraving (but not your cardboard tube or you will flatten it).
  • Students ‘engrave’ their names on their personal bracelets but not on the gift bracelets.
  • When finished engraving the tinfoil, lay the tinfoil with the design face down. Lay the cardboard on top of the tinfoil with the curl up. Then fold all four edges of the tinfoil tightly over the cardboard. Students may need to work in pairs for this part. If the cardboard has not been flattened, the bracelets will curl around the students’ wrists well enough to stay on for a while.
  • Collect students’ gift bracelets for the sharing event in Step Five, in the two boxes labelled with group numbers. Collect the personal identity bracelets in the unlabelled box, for safekeeping until the event.

Step Five: Sharing the bracelets and stories

Students co-operate to develop an event to:

  • display their personal bracelets.
  • share the identity stories on which the bracelet designs are based.
  • share their worksheets, so they can talk about how they used their sketches to think through the design and development of their images, and tried to solve problems considering more than one option or strategy.
  • give their second bracelets to a classmate, as an anonymous gift.

Students co-operate to decide what will happen at the ceremony – how people will tell their stories, show off their bracelets, and give their bracelet gifts away. In Haida culture, new crests and jewelry were displayed, and stories were shared and enjoyed at winter gatherings.

Crests had to be validated and the community had to accept a new crest before an individual or family could use it. Students may want to have a validation ceremony as part of the event.

Have students decorate the classroom walls with their name charts, transformer drawings, and “Bracelet Planning” worksheets.

Extend the lesson: Students can take digital photos of their bracelets, create a slide show, and display it at the sharing event, using the computer, projector and projection screen. Some students may want to present a song, dance, or poem, or act out their stories alone or in groups.

When all the second bracelets have been given away, ask students how they felt about giving their bracelets away. Remind them that in traditional Haida culture, when you gave a gift, it increased your wealth and status in the community, and in the future, the recipient of that gift would give them an even more valuable gift.

Take this opportunity to emphasize that every student has a unique story that makes up their personal identity, and no matter when or where they live, they confirm their identity and strengthen their community and culture with the sharing of their stories.

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