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Photo by Robin Canfield via Unsplash


Indigenous Peoples' History, Physical Geography


6th, 7th, 8th


Social Studies, History, Geography


90 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Water Is Life: Living in Reciprocity With Local Waterways (Past, Present, and Future)

Last Updated:
Apr 24, 2024
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In this lesson, students learn about the importance of water to Indigenous Peoples and the need to protect water today.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students describe their personal experiences with local waterways.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students investigate the importance of water to the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, reflect on the need to live in reciprocity with rivers, and explore ways to be water protectors.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students create a One-Pager to demonstrate their learning and explain how they can ally with the Indigenous Peoples of Oregon to protect local waterways.
Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson focuses on historical and current injustices faced by Indigenous Peoples.
  • This lesson offers students an opportunity to creatively brainstorm ways to protect waterways in the Willamette Valley.
  • Students may experience sketchnotes for the first time.

Additional Prerequisites

  • It is necessary to acquire We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom before the lesson. You can check your school library or local library to borrow a copy of the book.
  • Students should add to their sketchnotes throughout the Investigate section. It may be necessary to prompt students intermittently to add to their sketchnotes as they transition from one part of the lesson to another.


  • Allow students the choice to complete their sketchnotes on paper or on a device.
  • Students are encourage to share their One-Pagers in ways that fit their learning style the best.
Scientist Notes

This lesson allows students to brainstorm ways to support Indigenous Peoples in protecting their waterways. The Indigenous Peoples of Oregon have been living with nature from inception, and this lesson suggests sustainable ways humans can live in harmony with nature. All the maps, images, videos and supporting materials embedded in the lesson are well-sourced. This lesson is recommended for teaching.


Note On Standards:

This lesson is aligned to Oregon standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

Discover more on the Oregon Climate Education Hub.
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