Plants as Good Relatives

Students will explore the Haudenosaunee Ohèn:ton Karihwatéhkwen (The Words That Come Before All Else). Students then participate in an experiment focused on whether indoor plants have an impact on humans.

Program Details

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Plants as Good Relatives


• Video segment embedded on QUILLS website of Kanyen’kehá:ka (Wolf Clan) educator Liv Rondeau sharing the Ohèn:ton Karihwatéhkwen. • Section in short ten-minute video accompanying the Gifts of the Earth Bundle video featuring Kanyen’kehá:ka (Wolf Clan) educator Liv Rondeau discussing the significance of the Ohèn:ton Karihwatéhkwen. • Plants as Good Relatives.pdf • Projector or computer access
  1. Ideally a Haudenosaunee community member can be invited to share the Ohèn:ton Karihwatéhkwen with the students. 
  2. Alternatively, students listen to a song containing the Ohèn:ton Karihwatéhkwen (in language: ). (This is review from the Indigenous Knowledge Bundle). Students then read the address in English.
  3. Students can also watch a video segment embedded on the QUILLS website of local Kanyen’kehá:ka (Wolf Clan) educator Liv Rondeau sharing the address. There is also a segment in the ten-minute video accompanying the Gifts of the Earth Bundle of Liv Rondeau discussing the significance of the address.
  4. As the teacher explains that this is a Haudenosaunee address, the class can have a discussion regarding how the address reflects the Haudenosaunee values of interdependence and holism and helps to foster reciprocity with the natural world.
  • Discussion prompts:
    • What would it mean if one thing was left out of the address? 
    • How do people fit into the address? (i.e: people are not any more important than the animals and plants that are given thanks to?)
    • How might seeing plants, animals, the sky, and the land as equal to humans’ impact how an individual interacts with the natural world?    
Western Science Connection

5. Students familiarize themselves with the study: What are the benefits of plants indoors and why do we respond positively to them? by Virginia Lohr (2010). Summary found on this interactive online tool. If computer access isn’t available, content can be found in the Plants as Good Relatives.pdf.

 6. From this information, students are tasked with developing their own study to support or refute the theory that indoor plants benefit people. Based on the different examples from the paper, students pick a topic and develop a hypothesis to test. Students can create a study themselves or do a survey to gain data related to their hypothesis. Students should be provided with choice regarding how their results are presented. Ie: orally, on a poster, in a report, in a PowerPoint presentation, etc.                                                                                                         

Optional Extension:

1. As students learn about reciprocity and interconnectedness from the Ohèn:ton Karihwatéhkwen, students come up with something (stemming from their own culture or identity) that they can do every day to remind them of their relationship and interdependence with the natural world. Students should try this practice out for a couple weeks and then reflect on it. Did it change their perspective or their way of seeing the world? Did it help them be more mindful? Did it affect their energy throughout the day?