Houghton Mifflin Social Studies
From Sea to Shining Sea

Understanding Primary Sources:
A Navajo Thunder Song

Objective: Students read and interpret a traditional Navajo song to better understand the influences of nature and climate on Navajo culture.

What You Need:

Suggested Time:
2 hours over a period of 1 or 2 days

Building Background:
Discuss with students what they learned about the Navajo in Unit 2. Ask them which region of the United States the Navajo settled (the Southwest). Then have your students identify and describe the main physical characteristics of the land and the climate of the Southwest. Students should recall that the Navajo lived in the desert, which is dry and hot. Talk about the ways that the Navajo adapted to their desert environment. Then have students recall the various ceremonies and traditions of the Navajo that learned about in the unit. Share with students that they will be reading a song used in a Navajo ceremony.

What To Do:

1. Pass out copies of A Navajo Thunder Song worksheet. Have individual students read aloud a line from the song.

2. Once students have finished reading the song, ask them the following questions:

3. In the space provided on the worksheet, have students draw a picture that illustrates the Navajo thunder song. If students choose, they may want to look in reference books for other Native American songs, poems or stories to illustrate. If you have Internet access, students can search the following sites for Native American songs, poems, or stories to print out.
NativeTech: Poetry & Stories

Have students share their illustrations with the class. Ask them to explain how their illustrations show the importance of land and natural resources to Native Americans.


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