Bird Gods? Fox Man? Long Tail?

Too Good to Myth!


Bird

Fox Man

Long Tail

Subject Areas:
Language Arts, Dramatic Arts, Social Studies

Objectives:
The student will:

Time:
Two hours to write rough draft and final copy of myth
One hour to write dialogue for play
Drama group work time will vary

Materials:
Bird Gods? Fox Man? Long Tail? handout
Bird Gods? Fox Man? Long Tail? overhead transparency

Must Know Info:

steatite:
a soft rock that has a soapy feel; also called soapstone

Bird Mound:
nickname for Mound A at the Poverty Point State Commemorative Area


plummet:
fishing weight or bola in a teardrop shape, ground from heavy lumps of iron ore

The Poverty Point people carved many unusual and interesting designs on objects such as steatite vessels, plummets, and beads. Archaeologists are not certain about the meaning of these designs, but it is fun to imagine about them.

One of the most common images at Poverty Point is that of a bird. Some people call the largest mound at the site the Bird Mound because they think it is in the shape of a bird. It may have been a place of ritual or worship because of its location and the earth ramp which is formed by the tail. Beads carved from red jasper are often in the shape of birds, mostly in the shape of little owls with big bellies. Animal claws, bird feet, and talons were also images carved into pendants and beads. Other designs were carved on plummets used as weights for fishing. Some archaeologists think that the Fox Man looks like a man with a fox head or hat. Others think that he looks like a horned owl. The Long Tail may be a picture of an opossum. All of the animals represented in Poverty Point engravings are important in the legends of the Southeastern Indians who came later. In later stories, these animals are usually connected with death, witchcraft, early warning, news, and stories of the Indians' beginnings.

Procedures:

1. Show Bird Gods? Fox Man? Long Tail? overhead transparency. Archaeologists have found these images carved on beads, steatite bowls, and plummets found at the site. Plummets are shaped like teardrops and were probably used as fishing weights for nets. The images may have had religious or cultural significance for the Poverty Point people.

2. Distribute Bird Gods? Fox Man? Long Tail? handout and read through information with students.

3. Review the characteristics of a myth with students and elicit examples of familiar Greek and Roman myths. Be sure to distinguish between myths, legends, and tall tales.

4. Have students follow directions on handout to create a rough draft and final copy of an original myth.

5. Group students according to the main character in their myths (Bird God, Fox Man, or Long Tail) with three to four students in each group. Students will read their stories aloud and then collaborate to write dialogue for a group dramatization of one of the stories or a combination of plots. Students can devise simple props and costumes using readily available materials.