Quills Theme: Invasive Species

Interacting with Reciprocity with our Plant Relatives

Students discover how while both Western scientists and local Indigenous groups view plants as alive (or biotic), local Indigenous groups view plants as spirited relatives which is generative of the development of more reciprocal relationships between plants and community members.

Culminating Task: Spreading the Word about Invasives

Students pick an invasive species to research and report on. Research must touch on the impact the species has on Indigenous land-based practices and how management practices are informed by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of knowing.

Using Technology to Curb the Spread of Invasives

Students learn about how modern forms of technology can be used to control invasive species impacting Indigenous land-based practices such as Dutch elm disease and phragmites.

Using Fire to Curb the Spread of Invasives

Students learn about how controlled burn fires can be used to curb the spread of invasive plants and about the benefits of heating homes with wood.

Community Efforts to Curb the Spread of Invasives

Students learn about how Haudenosaunee community members in Akwesasne are utilizing a variety of strategies, including planting trees, to manage the impact of the emerald ash borer on black ash tree stands. After learning about the value of planting native tree species students practice saving and planting native tree seeds.

Factors Enabling Invasive Species to Establish and to Thrive

Students learn about transportation methods that transmit and those that can be utilized to reduce the spread of invasive species. Students also discuss the factors that enable species to thrive when introduced into a new area and, therefore, to become invasive as opposed to native or naturalized.

Emerald Ash Borer: A Threat to Basket Weaving

Teacher leads a discussion with students about how black ash trees across Ontario, used to harvest wood to create black ash baskets, are currently threatened by the emerald ash borer.

Dutch Elm Disease: A Threat to Longhouses and other Building Materials

Students learn about Dutch Elm disease and its impact on Elm trees and Haudenosaunee tools. Through a communicable disease lab students recognize the parallels between the transmission of Dutch elm disease and human diseases such as tuberculosis.

Phragmites: A Threat to Cattails

Students learn about the impact of phragmites on cattails and wetland health.

Tracking Invasives

Students learn about the locally pervasive invasive species, garlic mustard, and use a website developed by local scientist, Rob Colautti, to track its presence. As an extension students identify other flowers and plants found nearby and both identify whether they are native, naturalized or invasive and question the implications of this.

Invasive Species

Students review different types of invasive species and their impact on ecosystems.

Transportation – Snowshoes

Students learn about snowshoe designs utilized by local Indigenous groups. Next, students can engage in an optional extension activity in which they examine how traditional snowshoe designs reduced pressure upon the snow by dispersing weight over a larger area. Students learn how to calculate pressure by converting metric units into international system of units (SI).

Shelter – Wigwams

Students learn about the cultural significance of wigwams to the Anishinaabe and engage in an interactive hands-on math activity where they calculate the diameter, area, and circumference of where a wigwam would be constructed using number of steps and other body parts to approximate distance. As an extension students can examine how harvesting materials at different times of the year impacts tree growth and forest health.

Rope Making

Students learn what rope is made from by local Indigenous groups, make their own rope, and practice knot tying. Teachers leads a discussion with students regarding the impact of invasive species such as purple loosestrife on Indigenous land-based practices such as cattail mat weaving, basket making and rope making.

Haudenosaunee Basket Weaving

Students learn about the cultural significance of basket weaving to the Haudenosaunee. As an extension teachers may choose to have students weave their own baskets that integrate patterning principles.

Minds On: Seeing the World Through the Lens of Gratitude

Students learn about the Haudenosaunee Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen (Thanksgiving Address) and are invited to reflect on all of the things in the natural world Indigenous people rely on locally for their tools and technologies. Students then spend time in sit spots on the land and reflect on what they grateful for in nature.

Indigenous Resurgence

Students learn about the ability of Indigenous resurgence to revitalize Indigenous lifeways and engender empowerment within community. Students engage in a beading project as an example of Indigenous resurgence.

A Spirited Epistemology

Through discussion with the teacher, students discover that while Western scientists categorize elements of an ecosystem as either biotic or abiotic local Indigenous community members view all elements in the natural world as spirited and, therefore, biotic and alive.

Food Production – The Grinding Stone

Students learn about the grinding stone used by the Haudenosaunee to prepare food and reflect on the importance of caring for the tools we rely on as well as the natural materials they are sourced from.

Biodiversity and Invasive Species: A Garlic Mustard Case Study

Students will explore the impact of invasive species on biodiversity specifically by looking at garlic mustard. Students will draw a scientific drawing of the plant, play a game to understand how it moves through ecosystems, discover plans on how to eradicate it, and contribute to citizen science.

Weaving – The Gifts of Cattails

Students learn about the many gifts that cattails provide from local Indigenous community members. With assistance from a community member students harvest cattails and create a cattail mat.