Geronimo’s story has been shared far and wide in books and has been passed down in other forms from storyteller to storyteller across generations. In the novel Geronimo, Joseph Bruchac shares the story of Geronimo’s courage and bravery as an Apache warrior standing up against the U.S. government. It’s an engaging read for students and opens a window to many important aspects of Native American history and culture students will find interesting.
Students not only learn about Geronimo’s heroism, but also the importance of alternative forms of storytelling and the role those forms play in Native American culture, then and now. From art to the oral tradition, there are a number of ways to share engaging stories. Geronimo is a great lead-in to these other forms of storytelling and offers students the opportunity to explore the differences and similarities inherent in these mediums.
Here are a few activities to help students reflect on Geronimo’s experience and how they can use different forms of storytelling to continue to share his story and those of others:
Map Geronimo’s journey to Florida.
Maps not only guide a person from one location to another, they also tell important stories. Using information from Geronimo, ask students to create a map that outlines Geronimo’s journey to Florida. Encourage them to incorporate important details and illustrate their maps with drawings and other key elements to help tell Geronimo’s story.
Share a family member’s story.
In the book, Geronimo’s story is narrated and shared by his grandson, Willie. Encourage students to recall a story they were told by a family member or loved one and retell it to a classmate. Start by sharing a story passed down to you to inspire students. Additionally, encourage students to ask questions about one another’s stories to draw out important details that will engage listeners and capture their attention.
Illustrate the story.
After students have presented their stories to classmates, encourage them to illustrate a scene or character from the story. It could be a portrait of the main character, a landscape detailing the setting, or an abstract rendering representing the emotion and feelings behind the story. Once they complete their work, ask them to share and talk about the piece with a classmate and retell their family member’s story. You may be surprised how their art informs the story they tell now.
There isn’t one single way to tell a story. When students explore alternative forms of storytelling outside of books and digital media, they come back to see these traditional means of communicating ideas and stories in a new light. By making maps, exploring the oral tradition of storytelling, and creating original art inspired by their stories, students get a clearer picture of the critical elements that go into creating a story that’s engaging, informative, and stands the test of time.