Dottie Susag – Native American Literature

Dottie Susag reading Where Did You Get Your Moccasins? to the 1st and 2nd grade classes.

On Thursday, Jan. 12, Dottie Susag visited our school and presented a workshop on Native American Literature. On Friday, Jan. 13, Dottie shared her expertise with teachers on the Step Up To Writing Program, as well as the 6 Traits of Writing.

Dottie lives in Fairfield, Montana. In 2005, Dottie began working part-time for OPI as a “Speaker in the Schools” and Curriculum Writer. She puts on workshops and conducts classes for teachers in schools across Montana focusing on Native American Literature.

Dottie is the person with OPI who writes the study guide units with lesson plans for the teachers to use with many of the Native American Literature books that we have in the library, as well as incorporates the Common Core Standards into each lesson.

On Thursday, the Kindergarten class listened to Dottie read Baby Rattlesnake, Our Journey; they looked at a Montana Map and tickets learning about the importance of east, north, south, and west to the Native American culture. The 1st and 2nd grade classes listened as Dottie narrated Red Parka Mary, Where Did you Get Your Moccasins? And What I Keep. These stories focused on gifts. The 3rd and 4th grade classes were excited to hear the story of Good Luck Cat, Elk Thirst, and Porcupine on the Highway which all focus on respect for animals. The 5th graders were treated to an Introduction to Boarding School – Jim Thorpe’s story. Dottie showed a clip from Montana Mosaic. She also then read Missions poem.

The 6-12th grade talked about Critical Literacy with Dottie – “What does it say, and why does it matter? She stated that you are not only responsible for what you say, but you are also responsible for what people hear. Dottie also talked about Walt Disney’s take on the Native Americans in the movies he has made. She felt that sometimes the way they were being portrayed in the Disney movies was not historically correct with the Native American’s culture and history.

Dottie has been compiling a book called “Birthright: Born to Poetry – A Collection of Montana Indian Poetry” that will bring Montana Indian poetry to the local students. This book features Native American poets, along with discussion, questions and other thought provoking text. It becomes a great way to connect the students to the people and places talked about in each poem. The book also has comments from some of the poets on where they received their inspirations for their poems. Other features also include questions relating to the seven essential understandings regarding Montana Indians.