Sample Middle School Course

Who Is In Control?

Grade Level: 6th Grade

                        Week/Lesson Eight


Lesson Objective
The Student will
  • learn about the Lakota value fortitude.
  • learn about the Lakota value bravery (courage).
  • learn to cope with adversity (thoka) and control unwanted situations.
LCH Goals

Goal 3: Students will explore the criteria for safe and healthy relationships and how to set clear boundaries.

Goal 4: Students will learn about the various risk behaviors (for example: substance abuse, self-destructive behaviors) and their long-term physical and emotional consequences.

Lakota Virtues 

Bravery - Woohitika

Fortitude - Wowacintanka

Perseverance - Wowacintanka

OSEU Connectors 


OSEU 5 - Oral Tradition & Story


OSEU 4 - Kinship & Harmony

OSEU stands for Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards. More information can be found here.



Materials Needed 
  • Medicine Wheel floor display for talking circle
  • Sage, shell and turkey feather for talking circle
  • "The Story of the Giants" (audio) from The Lakota Way by Joseph M Marshall Ill
  • Poster board or white board
  • Reflection Journals
Things to Review  


  • Cantewasake (can-te-wa-sa-ke) - fortitude, strength of heart and mind
  • Cantet'inze (can-te-t'in-ze) - to be brave, courageous
  • lya (e-ya) - giant
  • Thoka (to-ka) - adversity or enemy - an unfortunate event or circumstance

Learning Activities

  1. Begin with gathering around the medicine wheel and Azilya (smudge). Azilya as school allows. Explain to students how important it is to have an understanding of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota culture.
  2. Ask students how they are practicing their culture (no matter what their culture is).
    1. If you do participate in any traditional practices, what are some of them?
    2. How does participating in cultural activities and events keep you from getting into unsafe and harmful situations? It helps to shape us and provide us with a sense of connection and belonging. (This lesson is about controlling the situation and identifying some coping skills.)
    3. How do we show appreciation for other cultures? (You may want to share with students that we can appreciate and respect others’ culture; you don’t have to make others’ culture look bad to practice your culture.)


  1. Briefly review the important points from last week's lesson 7.
  2. Tell the students that we will listen to the story "The Story of the Giants" from The Lakota Way by Joseph M Marshall Ill.
  3. After hearing the story, process the story orally and in writing
  4. Explain how lya (e-ya) can be used as an example of alcohol, drugs/tobacco use, gangs, violence, vandalism or placing oneself into an unhealthy or unsafe situation.


Process with Students 

  1. What do you think would have happened to all the people if lya (e-ya) was not destroyed?
  2. How can we take the moral of the story and apply it to our own lives?
  3. In their reflection journals, have students complete the page titled, “Who is in Control?”
    1. Students will list three situations which you believe were not healthy or were harmful to you or others, or not safe for anyone.
    2. Students will list three or more ways in which you can make positive choices about harmful situations such as substance use, being in a gang, vandalism, etc.
    3. Students will give examples of skills to cope with a difficult situation.
  4. Have the students share their responses to each question. List them on poster board paper or a document for everyone to see.
  5. Share some skills to cope with the following situations:
    1. Dangerous people or activity within the home
    2. Individuals who are selling alcohol, tobacco or drugs to you or others
    3. Being in a situation where people are using drugs or alcohol
    4. When someone is bullying or being mean to you
    5. When you are invited to be a member of a gang
    6. When someone approaches you to do something you do not want to do
    7. When someone pressures you into doing an online challenge
    8. Seeing something on social media that is bullying others



OPTIONAL: For this curriculum, we invite you to have students reflect in their reflection journal / workbook. This can be done in a digital file shared with the educator (Google Docs, Word Online) or in a paper journal. This reflection includes:

  • For elementary school students, 1) show what you learned from the lesson by drawing a picture, 2) slow down and write how you feel about what you learned, and answer 3) how could you grow or learn even more on this topic?
  • For middle school students, 1) demonstrate one takeaway from the lesson, 2) reflect and summarize your feelings and thoughts about the lesson, and answer 3) how could you apply what you learned from this lesson to your life?

LCH has no specific graded assessments. However, you may wish to use the activities and your observations to inform future lessons. If your context requires grading the material, consider scoring their performance against the outcomes.