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FNSS Curriculum Integration Project Click here to download this lesson.
Yvonne Mensies (MS-Word format.)

Grade: 6
Lesson 3: First Nations Stereotypes in the Movies
Time: 40 minutes for classroom discussion and 2 hours for Part Two

Topic: Movie representation of First Nations people.

Rationale: First Nations people are stereotyped by the media, books, movies and have been used as corporate logos. This curriculum will promote an understanding of First Nations among all students. It is expected that students will evaluate mass media stereotypes of cultural groups or geographic regions. It is hoped that students will unlearn "Indian" stereotypes. It will also contribute to Aboriginal Student's sense of belonging in the public school system.

Materials and Resources

  • Any Western "Classic" movie will do.

Main concepts

  • To create an awareness that what you see at the movies is not an accurate portrayal of actual people.

Intended Learning Outcomes
Social Studies

  • Research information using print, non-print and electronic resources
  • Identify and clarify a problem, issue or inquiry
  • Evaluate the creditability and reliability of various sources
  • Mass media stereotyping of cultural groups

Personal Planning

  • Explain the concept of stereotyping

(Note to teachers: give definition first)

The principal character in a novel, poem, or movie. In many movies portraying First Nations people, the hero is usually non native or a "half-breed".
A wicked or evil person; a drmatic or fictional character who is typically at odds with the hero. In many movies portraying First Nations people the villain is usually a First Nations person.

Planned Learning Activity
The teacher will lead a discussion on movies that have First Nations characters. In small groups the students will brainstorm the following questions:

  • Make a list of movies they have seen that have First Nations characters.
  • What were the character's personalities like?
  • How did the characters dress?
  • Who played the part of the First Nations people?
  • Were the First Nations heroes or villains?
  • What kind of movies are they? Westerns, Animated. . .

The students will come back as a class and share their findings.
The teacher will discuss the following issues:

  • The First Nations people are almost always the villains, while the white characters are the heroes. (Dances with Wolves - opposite).
  • First Nations people are stereotyped as savages, noble savages, cheaters, liars and evil villains or perfect in some cases which can be equally harmful.

The teacher will rent a movie for the students to watch in class and the students will write a movie critique for their third journal entry. Suggested movies:

  • Little Big Man
  • Disney's Peter Pan
  • Disney's Pocahontas
  • The Indian In the Cupboard
  • Pocahontas (non-animated version)
  • Last of the Mohicans
  • Dances with Wolves (long movie)
  • Lakota Woman
  • Any Western "Classic"

It is important to check copyright concerns and preview any video before viewing it with your class.


  • The students will write a movie critique that will be used to evaluate student understanding of stereotypes in the movies.


Other Integration Opportunities

  • Language Arts - could be done as a written assignment.

Resources Used and Supplementary Materials Available

  1. Any Classic Western Movie (see suggested movie list above)

Movie Critique
Name of Movie:_________________________________________
Thumbs up Thumbs down

Circle whether you give this movie a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Write a critique describing how this movie portrays First Nations people. Please give concrete examples. Describe your feelings on the entertainment value of the movie. How do you think this movie can be improved?

Name stereotypes observed in the movie:

Summative Criteria

Criteria Ratings Comments
Student demonstrates an understanding of the important ideas about the topic (through interaction and activities) 4 3 2 1  
Examples, ideas, and detail were offered as solutions to this problem, demonstrating a deeper understanding of the topic 4 3 2 1  
Considers individual rights and responsibilities; is aware of his/her obligation to create change for such issues as stereotyping 4 3 2 1  
Is able to appreciate another perspective and value its worth 4 3 2 1  
Interesting and relevant information is included in the journal entry (concrete examples are given) 4 3 2 1  
Journal entry demonstrates a clear understanding of concepts studied 4 3 2 1  
Journal entry is organized and easy to follow 4 3 2 1