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Cultural Lit. 32: US & Iroquois Constitution Parallels

Time Frame

1 class periods of 60 minutes each


Utah LessonPlans


Students will: Identify and compare the stated purposes of the Iroquois and US Constitutions, and their roles as living documents after receiving direct instruction from instructor, reading selected texts, and working in group structures, within 1 class period.


1. Daly, Janet. 1997. US Constitution: Is it a Native American Myth?. Fitchburg, MA: Fitchburg State College Social Science Journal.
2. Grinde, Donald A. 1987. The Iriquois and the Origins of American Democracy. Speech delivered at Cornell University, September 11, 1987.
3. The Constitution of the United States
4. Iroquois Constitution (Gayanashagowa)
5. Stephens, E. and Brown, J. 2000. A Handbook of Content Literacy Strategies. Norwood, MA: Christopher Gordon.
6. Journal or notebook.

Instructional Procedures

Anticipatory Set:
Post the words ‘authority, solidarity, lineage, clan’ on the board, on a flipchart or on a projection device and ask the class if they are familiar with these words and their meaning. Conduct a collective brainstorming session and add the generated vocabulary words to listed words. Allow students to postulate the meaning of words and their understanding of concepts.

1. Students will be given copies of US Constitution (or use class textbook) and Iroquois Constitution (Gayanashagowa) for reference during lessons.
2. Instructor and/or students will read aloud while student’s follow along, or students will read in cooperative group structures, Gayanashagowa paragraphs 1-3, Janet Daly paragraphs 10-15, and the Preamble of the US Constitution.
3. Working in cooperative group structures, and using aforementioned texts as reference, students will analyze Gayanashagowa and US Constitution and compare the purposes and “living” element of both documents.
4. Students will record ideas in their journals (see Stephens & Brown—Content Journal, p. 28) and report to class from groups.

Assessment Plan

Students will record their comparisons in a content journal.

Created: 01/20/2005
Updated: 02/05/2018