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The Powwow at the End of the World, by Sherman Alexie

ACT College Readiness Standard: "Generalizations and Conclusions--Draw generalizations and conclusions about people, ideas and so on in more challenging passages" Text Lexile Level: 1390
by Alex Winninghoff on 9 August 2013

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Transcript of The Powwow at the End of the World, by Sherman Alexie

The Powwow at the End of the World
by Sherman Alexie
DO
NOW
LEARNING TARGET
What is a powwow?
A Native American ceremony involving feasting, singing, and dancing.
Based on these images, make an inference about Hanford's impact on the natural environment.
Sherman Alexie
Alexie is a Native American writer.
He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and is a registered member of the tribe.
He writes extensively about his heritage and culture.
The Grand Coulee Dam is near the Spokane Indian reservation and is the largest concrete structure ever built. The Spokane Indian Tribe has released a formal statement describing how the Grand Coulee Dam has destroyed the natural habitat of their land, and has eliminated many of the tribe's natural resources.
THE GRAND COULEE DAM
WHAT IS AN INDIAN RESERVATION?
An Indian reservation is land that has been reserved by the U.S. government for Native American people.
Write down your inference
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam
and topples it.
I am told by many of you that I must forgive
and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam
downriver from the Grand Coulee.
I am told by many of you
that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find
their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific
and causes all of it to rise.
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims upstream, through the mouth of the Columbia
and then past the flooded cities, broken dams and abandoned reactors of Hanford.
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after that salmon swims through the mouth of the Spokane River
as it meets the Columbia, then upstream, until it arrives
in the shallows of a secret bay on the reservation where I wait alone.
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after
that salmon leaps into the night air above the water, throws
a lightning bolt at the brush near my feet, and starts the fire
which will lead all of the lost Indians home.
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after we Indians have gathered around the fire with that salmon
who has three stories it must tell before sunrise: one story will teach us
how to pray; another story will make us laugh for hours; the third story will give us reason to dance.
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall when I am dancing with my tribe during the powwow at the end of the world.
Student will analyze a poem and reach a conclusion about its message based on textual evidence.
The Powwow at the End of the World
Group Questions
With two people seated near you, create a group of three. Discuss the two questions together. Once you are finished, independently write your response on your worksheet underneath the "Group Questions" heading. Be ready! I may call on you to share your answers and thoughts.
After each repetition of "...and so I shall...", the author states a sequence of events that are his conditions for his forgiveness. Can any of these conditions be met?
FIRST QUESTIONS
Why is it important to know that the author is a member of an Indian tribe? Can you infer who the author is addressing the poem to? What textual evidence suggests this?
SECOND QUESTION
Let's hear your thoughts.
1
EXIT TICKET
What is the message of this poem?
Why is the poem titled "The Powwow at the End of the World"?
QUESTIONS:
Stick it on the 1-4 grid on your way out.
I'm confident about my answers.
2
I'm fairly confident about my answers.
3
I'm not very confident about my answers.
4
I think my answers are incorrect.
Consider the reading strategies you came up with and use them as you silently reread the poem.
Featuring a Northwest Author
Who lives in Seattle, Washington
Why the Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood
He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.

I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?

And I wish he hadn’t done that— asked me to be honest—
because, you see, I have this policy about honesty and ***‐kicking:
if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor
and an A-­‐ feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time
with anything less than your very best.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored.
And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
Hi. This is Mr. Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something your son said today.
To the biggest bully in the grade, he said,
“Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?
It’s no big deal.”
And that was noblest act of courage I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math
and hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you’ve got this,
then you follow this,
and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this.

Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
Teachers make a difference! Now what about you?
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