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Aboriginal Legends WebQuest (Grades 2 – 5)

Every indigenous culture has its own set of stories, often relayed orally until finally being recorded in written form. In Canada, the Aboriginal peoples were no exception. Surrounded by the complexity, and sometimes fear, of the world around them, the Aboriginals told legends designed to make sense of the unknown.

In this webquest, you will survey some early Canadian Aboriginal legends in an effort to replicate their form in a legend of your own. Work in pairs for the first two tasks, and alone for the third. Read and follow the instructions below carefully.

The Activity:

1. Research

In pairs, choose 5 legends from the following sources. After reading them, use the graphic organizer provided to identify the legends' key elements.

  • Swampy Cree Legends , as told to Charles Clay; Toronto, Macmillan, 1938.
  • A Quill from a Canada Wild Goose ; Winnipeg, Manitoba Free Press, 1904.
  • "The Cree Legend of Nih-ka, the Wild Goose", p. 8.
  • Sacred Stories of the Sweet Grass Cree , L. Bloomfield; Ottawa, F. A. Acland, 1930.
  • "The Birth of Wisahketchahk and the Origin of Mankind", p. 8.
  • "The Origin of Horses", p. 257.

2. Analyze

In pairs, look back over your legend organizers. Answer the following questions:

  • What are some common elements of the legends you chose?
  • Can you identify any common structure to the legends? Explain.
  • What makes some legends more interesting than others? What literary elements should be present in order to develop a strong plot?

3. Create

  • By yourself, choose a topic of your own from which to develop a short legend.
  • Create a legend in the style of the Aboriginal legends you have read. Outline your plot before beginning to write, and consider the above points (in #2) when planning and creating your legend.

By E.A. Keith and S.J. Whyte