the Amazing Adventures of Kennewick Man/Nay Ah Shing School
Images of Students or their Work (typical).
Students were inclined to stay on task
because they felt a sense of ownership
in the idea for the project and in its final product.
Roger Nieboer comments on the comic book project: "The project evolved so organically that it is hard to see how to improve it. What is clear is that the students' sense of ownership of the topic and of the project as a whole helped them discover that they were capable of developing thoughts and ideas that had real validity.

This is most clearly illustrated in a great conversation the group had about migration patterns. The standard evolutionary story had been that North America was settled through successive waves of migration moving down the Bering Straits and fanning South and East. Kennewick Man, whose features are those of a Pacific Islander, appears to dispute this interpretation. The Ojibwe people believe that they migrated to the Midwest (in recorded historical time) from the East Coast, where they were created. This belief appears to be supported by recent archaeological findings that place Clovis Man in both Virginia and Europe nearly twenty thousand years ago. The project exposed the students to this variety of interpretations of the historical record. Knowing that the "facts" were under dispute helped them see that their own hypotheses might be just as valid. Offering their own opinions and ideas in this environment helped them feel like they were being creative, individual, and sophisticated.

This point was further made as students poured over court rulings and bureaucratic position papers, and compared them to local and tribal positions. Viewing the institutional dispatches critically allowed them to see that their culture was equal in importance to the dominant culture. By placing the dominant culture's opinion in the context of Ojibwe ways, students saw that they belonged to a culture with a clear sense of its own history, and its own future.

One of the surprising breakthroughs in the project was finding a sense of humor in the work. After working so hard, we discovered that Kennewick Man could be funny. After all, here was this prehistoric guy bumbling around the modern world like Zippy the Pinhead. Once his character developed as an individual we were able to explore many contemporary issues, including the elections and sports mascots, through the eyes of Kennewick Man."


Project Based Learning