Worksheet 5: Understanding A Legend

Part I:

In groups of 3-4 answer the 8 questions below (on the back of this paper or a piece of loose-leaf paper) about the “Legend of the Cedar Tree.”

Just the Facts

  1. What happened to the Earth and the Cherokee people when the Creator ended the night?
  2. What happened to the Earth and the Cherokee people when the Creator ended the day?
  3. How did the Creator express his sorrow and regret about the death of the Cherokee people?
  4. What modern tradition is linked to the cedar tree?

Beneath the Surface

  1. Why do you think the Cherokee wanted the Creator to change their environment?
  2. What is one lesson this legend attempts to teach?
  3. Do you believe the legend more closely resembles the image of Native Americans as forest managers or as “ecologically invisible” inhabitants of the land? Give evidence to support your answer.
  4. Based on the legend, what conclusions can you draw about how the Cherokee people felt about the environment?

Part II:

Staying in your same groups you now need to write and perform your own legend. The focus of your legend should be an explanation of the origin of either a tree, plant, or animal from your state. Before writing the story, first use the library and/or the internet to research your tree, plant, or animal.

When writing your legend you should answer the following questions:

  1. How and why was the tree, plant, or animal created?
  2. What has the tree, plant, or animal meant to the people of your state?
  3. What lesson do you hope to teach?

Remember that legends are not based on historical fact, so when creating your own you need to use your imagination. Although creativity is required, keep in mind that your story should try to demonstrate the importance of the tree, plant, or animal to the environment and the people of your state. Once you have written your legend prepare a short skit for the class (3-5 minutes) in which you act out the important scenes of your story. Use props, music, or illustrations to accompany your performance.