Science & Culture Unit 2-1: Tule Harvest

Science & Culture Unit 2-1: Tule Harvest

Grade Level:


Scope & Sequence:


  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. Expand knowledge of and respect for the environment.


  1. Be able to recognize tule plants in their natural environment.
  2. Be introduced to both cultural knowledge of and scientific concepts of conservation.
  3. Be introduced to the process of traditional Spokane way of tule gathering.
  4. Be able to recognize the appropriate diameter and length to harvest.
  5. Be able to experience a lake habitat.
  6. Apply the abilities of counting, measuring, and classifying to solving a problem

Spokane Tribal Values

  • Respect
  • Land-Environment
  • Relationships


  • sq’ʷastqin (tule)
  • sq’ʷastqin (cattail)
  • čłq’liʔ (lake)
  • yaʕ’ (gathering)
  • sy’ay’qs (tule mat)
  • nič (cut)
  • sčkʷltasq’t (Isaac Benjamin-Red Sky)
  • puteʔm’ (Respect)
  • lemlmtš (thank you)
  • xʷixʷey’uł (birds/animals)
  • č’eč’ip’lš (scissors)
  • sčkʷlkʷltetkʷ (Benjamin Lake)

Lesson Plan

The teacher will:

Before leaving for the harvest fieldtrip, the teacher will explain the importance of safety when using scissors and walking around water. The Teacher will discuss the lake habitat and explain how it sustains water plants like tules and cattails. The Teacher will explain the importance of respecting the environment as the students prepare to harvest tules. S/he will explain the importance of saying a prayer to the plants and thanking them for allowing them to harvest and make tule mats. In alignment with cultural conservation practices, students will be taught to take only the amount they will need and to not waste the plants. Students will also learn the importance of taking the plant tops off and leaving them on the ground for reseeding. Students can focus on harvesting tules that are about the size of a nickel at the bottom. (When tules are this size at the bottom, they are usually 6- 8 feet tall.)


  • Ask students to point to tules and to cattails when you get to the lake.
  • Ask students what the name of the lake is.
  • Ask students why they are wearing boots and discuss again the water hab°itat.
  • Post test is the cut tules and the strewn seeds. Review the day at the beginning of the next class to see what students remember.


  • Teach the students to never take more than they need and to cut the seeds off before they leave the area. Re-seed the area they harvested from.
  • Talk about the animals that live around the lake. Speculate about how the plants and animals support each other.
  • The early fall is the time to gather the tules. Late August – early September.

Materials Needed:

  • Scissors for cutting Tules
  • Large garbage bags to transport Tules
  • Old snow boots or rubber boots
  • Bag or small container for seeds


How to Harvest

Stress the importance of not harvesting more than you need. Students will participate in a tule harvesting fieldtrip to Benjamin Lake. Each student should gather 7 (seven) tules each for their tule mat project. Students should cut the tule at a 45% angle, pointing to the earth. This is so the tule will maintain its connection to mother 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.

HEALTH CONCERNS: Due to possible skin irritants and pollens, store green tules outside until ready to use, about two weeks, before you begin your project.

Lesson PDF Download

Related Videos

Related Images

Community Resources

  • Harvesting Tules Unit 2 Resource page for teachers preparing for the field trip
  • Field trip permission form
  • Work with the language program to invite elders to participate on trip.

Lesson Assigned To:

  • Knowledge of Language, History and Culture


  • K-l INQA Question and Investigate – Scientific investigations involve asking and trying to answer a question about the natural war’la’by making and recording observations.
  • K-l APPD Counting, classifying, and measuring can sometimes be helpful in solving a problem.
  • K-l LS2A There are different kinds of natural areas, or habitats, where many different plants and animals live together.
  • K-l LS2B A habitat supports the growth of many different plants and animals by meeting their basic needs of food, water, and shelter.
  • K-l LS1F Most plants have roots to get water and leaves to gather sunlight.


  • Standard 1: Ecological, Social, and Economic Systems Students develop knowledge of the interconnections and interdependency of ecological, social, and economic systems. They demonstrate understanding of how the health of these systems determines the sustainability of natural and human communities at local, regional, national, and global levels.
  • Standard 2: The Natural and Built Environment Students engage in inquiry and systems thinking and use information gained through learning experiences in, about, and for the environment to understand the structure, components, and processes of natural and human-built environment.
  • Standard 3: Sustainability and Civic Responsibility Students develop and apply the knowledge, perspective, vision, skills, and habits of mind necessary to make personal and collective decisions and take actions that promote sustainability.


Common Core Standards


Comprehension and Collaboration
Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.


Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking and listening at the college and career readiness level.


Conventions of Standard English
Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs when speaking or writing;
Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
Identify real life connections between words and their use;
Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.


Measurement and data
Describe measurable attributes of objects;
Describe several measurable attributes of a single object;
Geometry Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind and next to.

Spokane Tribal Standards

  • A.3 – acquire and pass on the traditions of their community through oral and written history;
  • 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;
  • 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.I – perform subsistence activities in ways that are appropriate to local cultural traditions;
  • C.4 – enter into and function effectively in a variety of cultural settings;
  • D.I – acquire in-depth cultural knowledge through active participation and meaningful interaction with Elders;
  • D.3 – interact with Elders in a loving and respectful way that demonstrates an appreciation of their role as culture bearers and educators in the community;
  • E.2 – understand the ecology and geography of the bioregion they inhabit;
  • E.3 – demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between world view and the way knowledge is formed and used;
  • E.8 – Identify who they are and their place in the world.