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SUBJECTS — U.S./1991 - present; Idaho & Diversity;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Father/Son; Grieving; Alcoholism;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — General.
Age: 12+; MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some intense images); Drama; 1998; 89 minutes; Color.
Victor Joseph is a young Native American in his late teens who lives on a reservation. His father drank, beat him occasionally, and left home when Victor Joseph was eight. As the film begins, word comes that the father has died. With another boy from the reservation, Victor Joseph journeys to Phoenix to retrieve his father's ashes and his truck. On the trip, Victor Joseph learns about the life his father led and comes to terms with his own identity. Smoke Signals is said to be the first film that was written, directed, and co-produced by Native Americans.
The TeachWithMovies.com Learning Guide to Smoke Signals will help teachers give children a sense of Native American life on the reservation and some of the issues faced by Native Americans today. It can serve as a supplement to courses on modern U.S. history. It will also help children understand some of the issues involved in a child's reaction to an abusive father.
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Smoke Signals gives us a glimpse of what it means to be a Native American today.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To give you a sense of how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to create lesson plans, we have set out below a paragraph from the Learning Guide to Smoke Signals.
The Coeur d'Alene Indians held sway in a territory that now comprises parts of Idaho and the state of Washington. It extended for some four million acres over the drainage and headwaters of the Spokane River. The Coeur d'Alene obtained food by hunting, fishing, gathering wild plants, and root digging. They used basic techniques to manage their resources, pruning plants that grew wild, and burning some areas to generate better plant growth. The Coeur d'Alene also burned extensive areas of forest to eliminate the lichen that hangs from trees. These lichen were used as winter forage by deer. The burning forced the deer to descend into the low country where they could be more easily taken in deep snow.
The Learning Guide to the film Smoke Signals contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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