By Rick Garrick
OTTAWA – The 800-piece LEGO Wampum belt in the Union of Ontario Indians’ We are all Treaty People teacher’s kit was a hit with homeschoolers in Ottawa.
“They were really excited about the LEGO aspect because they are big into LEGO,” says Anne Clarke, a homeschooling parent of four children. “We read the book together and then we started working on the LEGO Wampum belt project. They were really interested and had a lot of questions about the treaties and about the Wampum belt and how they were made.”
Clarke says her children now have a good understanding of the importance of the Wampum belt and the Peace and Friendship Treaties. The Wampum belt is a replica of the Treaty of Niagara Wampum belt, which was made in 1764 between the British and 24 First Nations. The Peace and Friendship Treaties were made in the 1700s between the British and Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy First Nations.
“I would recommend this curriculum to anyone,” Clarke says. “It is very easy to use and the kids have really enjoyed it and they have learned a lot.”
Clarke says the curriculum can be used by every child, whether they are homeschoolers or students in a school.
“Every kid should know this information,” Clarke says. “This is a really well put together way to learn what treaty (area) you live in. And what are the history of these treaties.” Clarke says the curriculum works for students with different learning styles and ages.
“There really is a little something for everyone in this curriculum which is part of what makes it work so well,” Clarke says. “Some kids are really big readers and they can read the information and learn. And some kids are hands-on learners, so while you are doing the hands-on components you can just talk together as a family about what you are doing and what it all means.”
Clarke ordered the teacher’s kit after reading an article about the LEGO Wampum belt.
“I thought that would be a really good fit for homeschool, instead of just doing the Canadian history that I got when I went to school,” Clarke says. “The idea of it being about the treaties was really interesting to me because growing up I didn’t learn anything about the treaty relationship that exists in this country.”
Clarke says the teacher’s kit provides her children with a “much better understanding of where they live” than she received in school.
“I find the curriculum to be really easy to use and I really like how it is set up,” Clarke says. “As homeschoolers, if my children are interested in something I try and follow their interests.”
Clarke plans to teach her children next about the treaty boundaries in Ontario.
“It’s kind of interesting for us because where we live right now is still under treaty negotiations with the Algonquins of Ontario,” Clarke says. “A couple of newspaper articles have come up about that, so we’re going to start looking at these treaty negotiations that are happening right now. This will help my kids have a better understanding of where they live.”
The Algonquin land claim covers 36,000 square kilometres in eastern Ontario with a population of more than 1.2 million people.
In addition to the LEGO Wampum belt, the teacher’s kit includes the We are all Treaty People teachers guide which makes connections to the Ontario curriculum and various activity sheets, posters, bookmarks and a DVD. Information on ordering the teacher’s kit is available at: www.anishinabek.ca/download/ORDER%20FORM-02.jpg.