Where I'm From: Personal and Cherokee Voices
Teacher:  Leslie Walker

Overview: This activity encourages students to make a connection between the place where they live and the people who occupied that place before them. Students will write a "Where I’m From" poem from their personal point of view and from the point of view of a Cherokee Indian. (Adapt this assignment to reflect the region in which your students are located. The lesson as described below was taught in North Georgia, where the Cherokee once lived.) This activity works to connect the personal and present voice to a public and past voice. Click here for extended version of this lesson with student artifact and teacher reflection.


  • Ella Lyon’s autobiographical poem, "Where I’m From"
  • Computers and access to the Internet

Time: 2 hours

Instructional Sequence:

  1. Students read George Ella Lyon’s poem "Where I’m From" and write a poem about themselves, emulating the same style.

  2. Students share their poems with the class.

  3. Lead class discussion by asking students if they know who was here (in their geographic region) before they were. Have them write a list of everything they know about the Cherokee Indians (the region’s previous inhabitants).

  4. In the computer lab or the media center, students research the Cherokee by accessing http://www.ngeorgia.com/history/nghisttt.html. Students answer specific reading guide questions below.

    Reading Guide-http://www.ngeorgia.com/history/nghisttt.html

    1. What was Georgia’s population in 1830?
    2. Click on American Land. What was the first piece of land controlled by the Cherokee?
    3. Who lead the Cherokee Nation against the removal?
    4. Who lead the smaller group supporting removal?
    5. How much money was the Cherokee Nation to be paid in exchange for removal?
    6. Was it ever paid?
    7. Who controlled most of the land in the gold region?
    8. What does Auraria mean?
    9. Click on Cherokee. Write five facts from the link.
    10. Click on New Echota. Read.
    11. Click on Cherokee Phoenix. Read.
    12. What does the name "Talking Leaves" mean?

  5. Have students write a "Where I’m From" poem from a Cherokee Indian’s point of view.

Evaluation: Answers reading guide questions correctly. Poems use specific images, objects, names, and events that define personal origin and origin of Cherokee Indians.

Click here for extended version of this lesson with student artifact and teacher reflection.

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