Ojibwe Clans Book Project

This lesson focuses on the history of clans in Ojibwe cultures. We based our clan categories on the knowledge of Eddy Benton Benai, an Ojibwe Elder and author of The Mishomis Book. The clans are based on animal traits of the region and are known to provide certain roles in Ojibwe society and leadership. There are generally 4 categories of clan animals; birds, four-legged, crawlers, and swimmers. The crane/loon, catfish, bear, martin, and wolf are the principal families. From these 5 original families, come subcategories of 15-20 additional animals.(deer, merman, pike, lynx, eagle, rattlesnake, moose, duck, goose, sucker, sturgeon, white fish, beaver, gull, hawk).This project allowed students to learn about their families clan, as well as practice researching and writing facts about animals, and talking to family members to learn more about the stories of their clans.

Materials Needed


Art Materials


Activity Process


My school is a Native school, and all students identify as Native in heritage. The motivation for this lesson in my classroom consists of asking my students to talk about how they know, and what they know about their family clan. If they do not know, I will ask them to go home and talk to a family member about their clan. We will talk about the characteristics of each clan and how they relate to the connected animals. If you work in a primarily non-Native school, then introducing the concept of clans in many Native cultures and meanings of other family traditions, such as family crests, may be an appropriate beginning.


I showed the class different techniques for researching their topic online and in the library. We will talk about primary sources in research and oral traditions in native culture. I will show the book we will make and demonstrate how the paper has to lay in order for it to be properly bound into one book. We will send away our booklets to be bound into one class books by a publisher who specializes in class projects. [Duluth Ruling and Binding was used]


  1. Introduce clans activity (see above)
  2. Students decide the clan to research
  3. Students work in the computer lab to research information about the clan histories and the animals that represent their clan.
  4. Students will record notes in a research journal.
  5. Students will then write two paragraphs. One on the animal and one on the clan.
  6. Student will go through the writing process of drafting, editing, revising and making a final draft of their paragraphs.
  7. When their writing is complete, students will get a piece of plain white paper to draw their animal that goes along with their clan (they are free to represent their clan animal in any way they wish).
  8. Once each student's image and text is complete, they will work together as a class to make the book cover.
  9. When all clans and the cover is finished, we will order the clans in a sequence decided by the class.
  10. We will type up an author's page with a class photo and a list of the authors.
  11. The book will then be brought to Duluth Ruling and Binding to be published into a hard cover book for the school and soft cover books for the students to take home.


The lesson will be brought to closure by having the students take their books down to the lower elementary grades to be shared and read aloud to the students. Students will be able to take their books home at the very end.


I will asses their learning by checking their research to make sure they use credible sites. we will talk about internet researching and how to find "primary sources". I will also be looking to see that they went through the writing process and completed a final draft. The book itself will also be evaluated for understanding.

Vocabulary Words


This lesson went really well. Students showed a strong interest in the clans as well as the animals. They were also very proud of having a finished published book. Because this was a group project, some students were frustrated with having to wait for others to complete their parts. It was a good exercise in patience and working together.

Grade Levels

Primary Content Area

American Indian Learner Outcomes

Content Standards


Language Arts



Social Studies