Harvesting Tules

Harvesting Tules

Grade Level:


Scope & Sequence:


Students will gather tules for a large teepee which they will construct during the winter. Students will participate in a small scientific study by observing and working with a small team to record the number of animals they see, where the animal was when they saw it, and what the animal was doing.


Students will:

  1. Expand knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe and discuss the natural world, materials, living things and natural processes by experiencing the natural habitat of Benjamin Lake.
  2. Observe patterns and relationships in the natural world, and record observations in a table or picture graph.
  3. Listen to and use observations (evidence) made by other students.
  4. Expand knowledge of and respect for the environment.
  5. Harvest tules in the fall for the tule teepee building in Winter months.

Spokane Tribal Values

Bring middle school or high school students and Elders along the field trip for Intergenerational teaching.


  • sq’ʷastqin (tule)
  • sq’ʷastqin (cattail)
  • čłq’liʔ (lake)
  • sčkʷltasq’t (Isaac Benjamin-Red Sky)
  • mlqnups (Eage)
  • spyakʔ (Hawk)
  • spqmi (Swan)
  • seskƛ̓’xʷm (Duck)
  • k’ʷsixʷ (Goose)
  • sp’rk̓ʷaqs (Turtle)
  • xʷixʷey’uł (birds/animals)
  • pišłp (cattail leaves)
  • sčkʷlkʷltetkʷ (Benjamin Lake)
  • p’rq’q’ew’ (Yellow headed Blackbird)
  • čłq’y’e ƛ̓’čƛ̓’ač’ (Red winged Blackbird)
  • titišuleʔxʷ (Snake)
  • łamayeʔ (Frog)
  • pisł (Trout)
  • sputeʔ (Respect)

Lesson Plan

The teacher will:

Work with the high school to coordinate the field trip. High school students will help harvest tules and record observations from the habitat.

Before leaving for the harvest fieldtrip, the teacher will remind the students of the importance of safety when using scissors and walking around water. The Teacher will review the importance of respecting the environment as the students prepare to harvest tules. S/he will review the importance of saying a prayer to the plants and thanking them for allowing them to harvest and make a teepee. Students will be taught to take only the amount they will need and to not waste the plants. Students can focus on harvesting tules that are about the size of a nickel at the bottom.

The teacher will also discuss the importance of not harming or bothering the animals. She will explain that they are there to watch the animals, to see where they live and what they eat.

The natural material is considered alive and has to be treated with respect. Before the harvest, prayers are made to give thanks for the gift of the plant. Children are also taught about cultural conservation practices. These traditions of how to harvest tules are passed on from older to younger.


  • Ask students to point to the tules and the animals around the lake.
  • Tules are gathered. Chart of records to be made during Tule Lesson 3.


Materials Needed:

  • Notebook and pencil for recording
  • Scissors for cutting tules
  • Large garbage bags to transport tules
  • Old snow boots or rubber boots


The animals of Benjamin Lake

When you arrive at the Lake, divide the students into small groups with a high school student as the leader of each. The groups will go around the lake, looking for animals and recording the number they see, where they see them and what they are doing. These records will be used in the next class to chart the findings.

How to Harvest

Students will participate in a tule harvesting fieldtrip to Benjamin Lake. Each student should gather as many tules as they can for the teepee project this winter. Stress the importance of not harvesting more than you need. Students should cut the tule a 45% angle, pointing to the earth. Show students the seeds. Clip off the seeds and put them in a small container. Throw the seeds back to where the tules were harvested. Leave the seeds at the site and scatter them in the place they harvested the tules.

Lesson PDF Download

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Community Resources

High school students

Lesson Assigned To:

  • Knowledge of Language, History & Culture
  • Standard 1: Ecological, Social, and Economic Systems
  • Standard 2: The Natural and Built Environment
  • Standard 3: Sustainability and Civic Responsibility
  • K-1 SYSA
  • K-1 INQA
  • K-1 INQF
  • K-1 PS1A
  • K-1 LS1B
  • K-1 LS1D
  • K-1 LS1E
  • K-1 LS2A
  • K-1 LS2B
  • K-1 LS2C
  • K-1 LS3C


Common Core Standards

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking & Listening:

First Grade Speaking and Listening Standards:

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language:

Language Standards First Grade:

First Grade Mathematics:

Spokane Tribal Standards

  • A.1 – Assume responsibility for their role in relation to the wellbeing of the cultural community and their life-long obligation as a community member.
  • A.4 – Practice their traditional responsibilities to the surrounding environment.
  • A.6 – Live a life in accordance with the cultural values and traditions of the local community and integrate them into their everyday behavior.
  • A.7 – Determine the place of their cultural community in the regional, state, national and international political and economic systems.
  • B.2 – Make effective use of the knowledge, skills and ways of knowing from their own cultural traditions to learn about the larger world in which they live.
  • B.3 – Make appropriate choices regarding the long-term consequences of their actions.
  • C.1 – Perform subsistence activities in ways that are appropriate to local cultural traditions.
  • C.3 – Attain a healthy lifestyle through which they are able to maintain their own social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing.
  • C.4 – Enter into and function effectively in a variety of cultural settings.
  • D.2 – Participate in and make constructive contributions to the learning activities associated with a traditional camp environment.
  • D.4 – Identify and utilize appropriate sources of cultural knowledge to find solutions to everyday problems.
  • E.1 – Recognize and build upon the inter-relationships that exists among the spiritual, natural and human realms in the world around them, as reflected in their own cultural traditions and beliefs as well as those of others.
  • E.2 – Understand the ecology and geography of the bioregion they inhabit.
  • E.8 – Identify and appreciate who they are and their place in the world.