Native Dreams
Native American Music
Teacher Resources Student Resources


  • Invitation to inquiry
  • Open minds
  • Stimulate curiosity

Visit the Grade 5-8 Research Guide for resources to help with the OPEN step.

You may use a variety of Inquiry Tools and Strategies throughout the research process.
For Native Americans, music is an ancient art form which has great cultural significance. Given the Native American people’s historical experience of loss and oppression, it has not been easy for them to preserve elements of their traditional culture. However, Native American music and other traditional arts have endured. Some contemporary Native American musicians have embraced the musical traditions of their ancestors, while blending them with modern music genres like rock, rap, hip-hop, and even heavy metal. They are using their music not only to express their culture, but also to address the issues and challenges faced by Native Americans today.

During this research, you will have an opportunity to hear their stories and their music. You will explore the issues that these artists and activists are confronting through their music to gain insight and understanding in response to the inquiry question:

How is contemporary Native American music both an expression
of traditional culture and a powerful force for change?

Your teacher/librarian will show the trailer for the MTV series Rebel Music: Native America to give you a glimpse of how history, culture, and current issues are important to some young Native American musicians. (Runtime: 2:00 minutes)

Use your prior knowledge or a dictionary to define these key vocabulary terms, which you may encounter during this research:
  • indigenous
  • aboriginal
  • First Nations
  • colonization
  • reservation
  • stereotype
  • regalia
  • activist
  • rebel

Select the Immerse tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Build background knowledge
  • Connect to content
  • Discover interesting ideas

Visit the Grade 5-8 Research Guide for resources to help with the IMMERSE step

Meet some young Native American musicians and listen to their music:

Rebel Music: Native America

Begin your Inquiry Journal by responding to these Inquiry Journal Prompts and the questions below.

After viewing the video clips: Discuss these questions in an Inquiry Circle (small group), and then with your whole Inquiry Community (class):

  • Musician Frank Waln states: "We see ourselves as human beings. And, we live in a society where that makes us rebels." How does this statement relate to Native American history?
  • Inez Jasper says, "I have to be a rebel just to be myself." Why is this true for her? Can you relate? How might this be true for you or for someone you know?
  • What does it mean to be a rebel? How is your definition the same or different from the "rebels" in the video?

Your teacher will play some songs from the Native America: 7th Generation Rises episode Playlist.

After listening to songs from the Playlist, respond to the prompts below in your Inquiry Journal, and then discuss with your Inquiry Circles (small groups) and Inquiry Community (whole group):

  • What contemporary music genres/styles are evident in the songs you listened to?
  • What traditional Native American music elements or instruments did you hear?

Select the Explore tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Explore interesting ideas
  • Look around
  • Dip in

Visit the Grade 5-8 Research Guide for resources to help with the EXPLORE step.

Explore these resources to select one contemporary Native American music artist/group for in-depth research.

  • Your music teacher may be able to recommend other Native American music artists..
  • Your teacher/librarian may need to provide access to some resources.

Your teacher may have you use these inquiry tools and strategies to guide your exploration:

  • Use the Stop and Jot strategy to record ideas and questions in your Inquiry Journal.
  • Use the Pair-Share Protocol to clarify your ideas, get feedback, and gain insight.
  • Use the Inquiry Log to keep track of sources that might be useful for further inquiry.

Select the Identify tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Pause and ponder
  • Decide direction
  • Identify inquiry questions

Visit the Grade 5-8 Research Guide for resources to help with the IDENTIFY step.

In the previous step, you should have chosen one contemporary Native American music artist as a topic for further research.

Remember our over-arching inquiry question:

How is contemporary Native American music both an expression
of traditional culture and a powerful force for change?

Consider these focus questions to guide your research. Refer also to any questions you generated during the Explore step, and generate new questions as you continue your research.

  • How has this musician's own personal life experience influenced his/her music?
  • What contemporary music genre/style is reflected in this artist's music?
    What other music artists influenced him/her?
  • What traditional Native American musical elements are evident in the music?
  • What other elements of traditional culture are evident in the music or the musician's performance?
  • How is history referenced in the music?
  • What current issues are important to the artist and addressed in his/her music?
  • How does the musician hope to promote positive change through music?

Identify and make a note of keywords in your focus questions. These will be useful for searching, scanning, and skimming in sources during the Gather step.

Select the Gather tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Gather important information
  • Go broad (search & locate)
  • Go deep (read & reflect)

Visit the Grade 5-8 Research Guide for resources to help with the GATHER step.


Use informaiton sources on the Student Resources page to locate and gather information about the contemporary Native American music artist you chose.

Use this Research Notes Chart to take notes about the musician(s) and their music.

You might also find these inquiry tools useful:

Be sure to evaluate the credibility of online sources you find though a general search engine like Google..

Avoid plagiarism by citing your sources:

Use EasyBib to create citations and add them in alphabetical order to your Works Cited list. Refer to EasyBib Citation Guides for help as needed.

When you think you have gathered enough good information to answer your inquiry questions, select the Create tab above to continue your inquiry.


  • Reflect on learning
  • Go beyond facts to make meaning
  • Create to communicate

Visit the Grade 5-8 Research Guide for resources to help with the CREATE step.

Collaborate with a partner or small group of classmates who researched the same music artist.

Share and analyze your research notes to reflect on your learning.

  • Do you have enough information to answer your focus questions?
  • Is all the information you gathered relevant?
  • What new insights have emerged in response to the overarching inquiry question?

Create a multimedia presentation to share your new knowledge with others. Your presentation should include details from your group members' research notes, and variety of media (embedded or hyperlinked) like images, music, and/or video.

  • According to fair use guidelines in U.S. copyright law, you may use copyrighted media for this educational project. Be sure to attribute the source of any media you include.

Below are some multimedia creation tools that you and your partner/group might choose to use. Consider the talents and interests of your group members when choosing a format.

  • PowerPoint - On your device; see this Basic PowerPoint Tutorial for instructions and tips.
  • DIscovery Ed Board Builder
    •  Access Discovery Education from the Digital Content tile in BCPSOne.
      Then pull down the Builder Tools menu to Board Builder.
    • Use resources in this guide if you are not familiar with Board Builder.
    •  Use these directions to share your board with your teacher and classmates; scroll to bottom of the page and watch the video “How to save and turn in your board.”
  • VoiceThread - Your teacher or librarian may provide student accounts/instructions.
  • Wiki page - Your teacher or librarian may create student accounts on a school library wiki or class wiki, so that you can create and edit your own page.
  • Classtools: Fakebook - a digital tool for creating a "face Facebook" profile; see this guide

Review the success criteria on this Rubric to be sure you have done your best to create a presentation that will interest and inform classmates in your inquiry community.

When you have finished creating your presentation, select the Share tab above.


  • Learn from each other
  • Share your learning
  • Tell your story

Visit the Grade 5-8 Research Guide for resources to help with the SHARE step.

Share your new knowledge and insights by presenting your multimedia project to your inquiry community.

As you view and listen to other groups' presentations, think about how each contemporary Native Amerian music artist is using music both as an expression of culture, and to promote change.

  • You may use this Presentation Notes chart, or another method of your choice, to take some notes about each music artist presented.

Apply your learning from your own research and other students' presentations by responding to the quote and questions below in your Inquiry Journal.

  • In the Rebel Music: Native America episode, Native American rapper Frank Waln says:

    "The music is my shield and my weapon."
  • What do you think he means? How does this statement relate to music as both an expression of traditional culture and a force for positive change?
  • How is this statement true for the other contemporary Native American musicians that you and your classmates researched?

Discuss your thoughts and insights with your Inquiry Circle (small group) and Inquiry Community (whole group).

Click on the Evaluate tab above to complete your inquiry.


  • Evaluate achievement of learning goals
  • Reflect on content
  • Reflect on process

Visit the Grade 5-8 Research Guide for resources to help with the EVALUATE step.

You may choose from a variety of tools to plan, make decisions, monitor progress, obtain feedback or support from your inquiry community, and reflect on your learning throughout the inquiry process. Your teacher or librarian may assign these periodically to check your progress and offer guidance as you need it..

Use these tools for final reflection/evaluation on your research process:

Use the success criteria on this rubric to self-evaluate you research presentation:

Extend your learning:

  • Did you know that Native American musicians have their own annual music awards show? The Native American Music Awards (a.k.a. the "Nammys") are like the Grammy Awards, but especially for Native American musicians in many genres. Explore the website to learn about some other contemporary Native American music artists..
  • How can you find ways to use music to fight for something you believe in? What issue are you passionate about? You can research the issue, and then use music (or another means of creative expression, like art, creative writing, etc.) to get the word out!
    • Opposing Viewpoints in Context and SIRS Researcher (part of SIRS Knowledge Source) are two BCPS databases that are useful for researching current issues. Access these databases from the Digital Content portal in BCPS One.

Background image source (labeled with rights for non-commercial re-use):