Resources - Teachers' Guide : Lesson One



Lesson 1: The Project


Dane-zaa elders, youth, and community members collaborated with a team of specialists to document and contribute to the revitalization of our culture and language. During the summer of 2005, our elders brought the documentary team to eight places in our territory where we shared oral histories about the stories, songs, people, and experiences that connect us to the land. The stories and songs presented here also introduce you to a long line of Dane-zaa Dreamers who have provided spiritual and practical guidance for our people for hundreds of years.

To learn more about the importance of cultural revitalization to our Dane-zaa website visit the Stories Page. Among many stories of place and history, you can watch a Dreamers' Dance and hear former Chief Gary Oker talk about the importance of our website project to our Dane-zaa people. You can also listen to Dane-zaa elder, May Apsassin, talk about the importance of preserving traditional Dane-zaa culture for future generations.


Lesson 1A: Elementary

Core Concepts

  • Aboriginal cultures, including Dane-zaa, pass knowledge from generation to generation and practical skills are learned by young people from older family and/or community members
  • The extended family is important in Dane-zaa culture and in many other cultures around the world
  • Elders have an important role in the Dane-zaa community
  • Remembering community members who are now gone is essential to the Dane-zaa concept of respect, and is also important to families and cultures around the world.


Go to the In Memory page of our website and click on the pictures until you find a person who interests you. Once you have selected someone, read about them, look closely at their picture, and fill out the following worksheet.


  1. Who is the Dane-zaa person you have chosen? Write down both their English and Dane-zaa name (if they have one).

  2. What special qualities or traditional skills was this person known for?

  3. How did this person share their knowledge with others?

  4. What did you learn from this person about our Dane-zaa culture?

Discussion Questions

  • Do you know anyone in your family or community who has knowledge they could share with younger people? This might be someone who knows how to prepare a special food, who tells stories, or has other knowledge they can share with students.
  • What are some ways that you preserve memories of people who have died in your family or community?
  • How does our Dane-zaa website help preserve Dane-zaa culture for future generations and maintain memories of our elders and other community members who are no longer alive?

Enrichment Activities

  1. Invite an elder (senior) or other community member to visit your classroom to talk about a skill they have or knowledge of local culture or history. Write down what they say or draw a picture of what you hear or see.
  2. When members of our family die, we can still hold onto memories of them. Remembering family members is an important way to preserve family stories and pass on cultural values. You can create an "In Memory" tribute of your own to a family or community member who is important to you. (Suggestion: Students can also share memories about living people who are important to them.) Write a story about this person and draw a picture or bring a photograph from home to illustrate it. Your class may choose to create a display of these stories.


Lesson 1B: High School

Core Concepts:

  • Elders and younger community members can work together, using new technology, to document and preserve Aboriginal oral traditions.
  • New technologies, including websites, can be utilized by Aboriginal peoples to tell their own stories, in their own way.
  • Cultural appropriation, copyright, and intellectual property rights, as they relate to information technology, are emerging issues for Aboriginal peoples.


Cultural and language documentation and revitalization is taking place in many Canadian First Nations communities today. Many communities have recorded elders, filmed dances and other special occasions, written and published dictionaries and story collections, and created websites such as our Dane-zaa website. Our Dane-zaa community members are excited about the possibilities of the Internet and other electronic technologies, which provide a wonderful way to document our traditional culture and can even spark cultural and language revitalization. However, we also have concerns about how this technology is used and how we can best share our stories with people outside our community. This concern is one that is shared by other First Nations.

To find out more about cultural revitalization, go to the Story Collection page and listen to Dane-zaa elder Sammy Acko, as he talks about how the art of Dane-zaa drum making was almost lost, then was "revived."


  1. Go to the Stories page of our website and watch the video of Dane-zaa youth, Mark Apsassin, talking about what Dane-zaa culture means to him and why documenting and revitalizing culture is important to Dane-zaa youth today.
  2. Click on Project Team where you will find pictures of our Dane-zaa website team members.
    First read the Project Team home page, then choose a team member and, based on their profile, fill out the worksheet below.


  1. Who is the team member that you have chosen?

  2. What was their "job" on our website team?

  3. What knowledge or skills did they share?

  4. Why is cultural documentation and cultural revitalization important to our Dane-zaa people and the project team member you chose?

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think that websites are a good way to document and revitalize traditional culture? Why or why not?
  • How is Dane-zaa culture different from your own? How is it the same?
  • The Dane-zaa community decided that the Dreamer Gaayęą's drum was too sacred to portray on our website. Can you think of other types of cultural or spiritual artifacts that would not be suitable for showing on the Internet?

Enrichment Activities

Design a website, either alone or as part of a team, that documents some aspect of your community or family's culture. What will your website include? Who is its intended audience—your family, your friends, your community, the world?


Continue to Lesson 2 : The Dreamer's Drum