K-12 and University Classroom Adaptable Module: Teaching Opportunities and Resources

Created by Amy S. Fatzinger, Ph.D., American Indian Studies, University of Arizona

"It is significant that the cinema was first used for educational rather than theoretical purposes." -- Visual Education Division of Los Angeles Schools, 1929

Teaching Opportunities

  • Diverse Audiences and Educational Opportunities
  • Native Communities
  • Native Language Speakers/Learners
  • Scholars across disciplines (i.e. Film Studies, American Indian Studies, Anthropology, Linguistics, etc.)
  • University Classrooms, K-12 Classrooms


Lesson Plan 1: Peoplehood and Cinema

  • Film: Any
  • Audience/Age Group: Adaptable
  • Objectives: Identify culture in cinema; Explore relationships between Language, Place, Sacred History and Ceremony

Sample Questions

  • How many examples of each aspect of Peoplehood can you find in the film?
  • Which narrator tells you more details about the aspects of Peoplehood? Why do you think so?
  • Can you find an example in the film of at least two aspects of Peoplehood that are related (ex. Place and Sacred History)? Explain the relationship you found.


Lesson Plan 2: Stories of Home

  • Films: Navajo Canyon Country (1954)
  • Audience/Age Group: Middle/High School Students
  • Objectives: Recognizing biases in word choice, perceptions of place, and presentation of history.

Sample Questions/Activities

  • Describe your home or favorite place to a partner.
  • How would you feel if someone described your home/place in a different, negative way?
  • Create a chart to compare the words each narrator uses to describe the following:
    • Navajo people Navajo homelands & Canyon de Chelly
    • The role of Canyon de Chelly during the winter of 1863-1864
    • The large cairn at the end of the film
    • How do the adjectives each narrator chooses reveal his feelings about the people and places he describes?


Lesson Plan 3: Representational Sovereignty in Cinema

Sample Questions/Activities: Get to Know Your Narrator Activity

  • Watch the first two minutes of each film (both narrations).
  • What patterns do you see in the ways the original and new narrators introduce the films?
  • What might be some reasons for the patterns you see?
  • What clues help you immediately recognize a narrator’s biases in a film?
  • What clues help you immediately recognize representational sovereignty in a film?


“The word 'educational' is here used in a wide sense and does not indicate that these films are intended for school or college use exclusively. They are intended rather for the education of the adult as well as the youth, for the exhibition before miscellaneous audiences, as well as for more restricted use.” (Devin Orgeron, Marsha Orgeron, and Dan Streible, 2012)