Multi-media /multiple learning style lesson on Culture Clash.
By A. Blasini MS 127            TARGET group: 7th grade/8th grade Bridge*: 2 PERIODS

Topic: Native American beliefs and The Spanish Conquest  Encounter of Two Worlds

Social Studies Standards: 1.4, 1.2, 2.2, 3.1 Movement of Peoples/Cultural encounters
                          and Interpretation of Primary Sources
Students will be able to,

- Respond to Literature & Visuals [ELA/NLA Standard: 2B, 5A, 1C, E5, 3D]
                           and Compare to similar piece. { 2B, 3B}
- Make predictions.= ELA & SS standards

-Discuss (share) and write, showing an understanding of the concept of “Clash of
     Cultures” and its consequences; and the effect of erroneous “Points of View”
     (Adverse effects of Pre-judging)

        Transparency showing Alien visiting Earth with undefined gesture (open to
        Tape recording of music from “The Day The Earth Stood Still” (Sci-Fi)
        Tape recording of medieval European music & Aztec/Maya music
        Handout (or Transparency) Primary source excerpt Columbus log;
        Encounter, by Jane Yolen; Was share- read previously
        What The Aztecs Told Me, Cristina Libura (Excerpt On Transparency)
        Transparency of Illustration ART from Primary source by Sahagun
        Handout on Bilingual Reading on “The Legend of Quetzalcoatl” with
          response questions.
        Handouts of chart with Guiding Inquiries re reading
Goal: Examine primary sources and read a story to understand how an
      encounter between two vastly different cultures led to drastic changes.

Class notes preparation: Copy Vocabulary words and Terms listed~
encuentro, fuentes primarias, punto de vista, choque de culturas, malentendimiento.
encounter, primary sources, point of view, clash of cultures, misunderstandings

INTERACTIVE MINI LESSON: Show transparency of Alien encounter. Discuss
possible encounters with Extraterrestrial beings. Have students interpret possible intent
of arriving Aliens (Let expectations and prejudices come through). Guided questions:
How should we react? Can we be sure our anticipations and first impressions are always
right? START A TABLE WITH GUIDING QUESTIONS on chalkboard. What is your
first impression about their appearance? What are your suppositions about their intent?
Are they friendly? Or dangerous? Record responses on board chart differing opinions.

Procedure: Review prior lessons: Discuss Point of View… (refer to primary sources).
Project Overhead Transparencies of each excerpt: student volunteers read each aloud;
teacher elicits paraphrasing from class Columbus’ initial impression of Tainos) and
contrast with READ ALOUD of Sahagun’s report of Aztecs…Elicit possible “errors” of
first impressions and points of view; [play Medieval music] ~ Elicit remembrance of
story of Taino boy POV in ENCOUNTER (how it was an imagined POV).

Introduce “clash of cultures” concept… SHOW THE TWO QUOTES (Columbus vs.
Sahagun) re N.A. religion. Demonstrate filling-in the question chart. HOW DO

GROUP or Pair ACTIVITY: (1) Groups of 5 will read “Legend of Quetzalcoatl”
Carousel/Jigsaw the reading divided in 6 sections. Take back to original group that
section of the story they learned (1) group arrives at answers to guided response
questions. (2) Group will share/discuss with each other their understanding of the
reading [while Aztec music plays] Worksheet as guide for Think/Pair Share.

SHARED CLASS DISCUSSION will air interpretations, focusing on one of the
questions after the reading (qv). Or their findings on the handout chart on culture clash
SUMMARY will address Goal of Lesson (above).
Suggested: INDEPENDENT Follow-Up & Assessment: Discuss the Quetzalcoatl story
and what you concluded in class about how it shows “culture clash.” Predict the fate of
other Native American cultures. Use the Follow-Up Worksheet “Mutual
Misunderstandings” q.v. (prepare for next day think/pair share?)

Homework: JOURNAL entry. Reflect on learning.

             ~ FUENTES PRIMARIAS ~

“Son amigables y no cargan armas…(solo) pequeñas
lanzas, y no tienen hierro. Le mostré a uno mi
espada y la agarró por la hoja y se cortó… Deberán
ser sirvientes buenos y capaces… Pienso que
podrian hacer cristianos facilmente, ya que
aparentemente no tienen religión.”
                      Cristoforo Colombo
                      [Diario de Navegación:
                     Viernes, 12 de octubre,1492]

“Nunca hubo gente tan dedicada a sus dioses.
Ofrecían sacrificios humanos a Ellos y hasta su
propia sangre, hincando su piel con espinas de la
mata de maguey, tal como su dios Quetzalcoatl les
había enseñado.

Durante el año entero observaban grandes
festivales, bailando y cantandole a los dioses,
porque creían que la orden del universo y la vida
humana dependían de esto.”
                       Bernardino de Sahagun
                     Fraile Español, en Mexico (1540)
                     Historia de Nueva España
               ~ PRIMARY SOURCES ~

“They are friendly and carry no weapons except for
small spears and they have no iron.
I showed one of them my sword and he grabbed it
by the blade and cut himself… They should make
good and skilled servants … I think they can easily
be made Christians for they seem to have no

                      Cristoforo Colombo
                      [Ship’s Log:
                      Friday, 12th of October, 1492]

“There was never a people so given over to their
They offered human sacrifices to them and even
their own blood, piercing their skin with the thorns
from the maguey plant, as their god Quetzalcoatl
had taught them to do.
All through the year they held great feasts, dancing
and singing to their gods, because they believed
that the order of the universe and the life of man
depended on it.
                       Bernardino de Sahagun
                       Spanish Friar, in Mexico (1540)
                      A History of New Spain
                              By A. Blasini

       The Mayas, the Aztecs, the Toltecs many other people of
Mexico and Central America had a similar legend. It told of a divine,
supernatural being with many powers, which had given them wisdom
and knowledge about fertility and agriculture and had therefore helped
humans and shown them how to live.
       The Mayas called him Kukulcan. The Toltecs and Aztecs
called him Quetzalcoatl. Both names in either Maya or Nahuatl, the
Aztec language, mean “Feathered Bird-Serpent.” There is in these
parts a beautiful bird of bright green feathers with a beautiful long and
colorful tail. It resembles a snake flying above and among the tall
trees of the jungle. This bird is called a “Quetzal.” Perhaps the
natives believed it was a representative or messenger of the god.
(COATL = means serpent in Nahuatl)
       According to the legend, in ancient times, Quetzalcoatl had
shown the people how to survive. He had shown them how to plant
and harvest, how to use science and mathematics and how to maintain
the world functioning by practicing sacrifices and ceremonies to the
gods. He instructed them to continue practicing these traditions so
that the world would not go out of order. He turned into a man with
yellow hair the color of the Sun, with eyes the color of the sky,
dressed in clothes that shone bright like the Sun. Upon his head he
wore a golden helmet that also reflected the Sun and had bright
feathers on it. He bid the people farewell and went off toward the
direction of the rising Sun, toward morning. From the East, he said,
he would one day return and bring with him much good fortune and
prosperity. He told them to wait for this great day and that when he
returned, for them to give him a proper welcome, because he was
going to create a new world and the earth would have a new start.
       In 1519, the Aztec emperor Moctezuma had been having
dreams in which the god Quetzalcoatl told him he’d soon come.
One day he received news brought by his messengers from the coast.
They told of large canoes or ships with sails arriving from the East,
carrying strange men of light skin and eyes the color of the sky.
Among these beings that had landed on the Eastern shore there was a
great man with golden hair, dressed in hard metal garments that shone
bright like the Sun.
Those that accompanied this supernatural being carried sticks that
shot flame from them and could kill at great distances. They also had
with them something huge that shot thunder and could destroy
temples and bring down walls. They rode upon large beasts that
snorted and could run at great speed,
       Moctezuma thought this surely must be Quetzalcoatl returning
to bring them the promised fortune. He immediately sent gold and
riches to him as offerings of welcome. He invited him to come soon,
for they had expected him for centuries.
       The strangers that arrived were not Quetzalcoatl and his
celestial companions. They were the Spanish who had come
searching for Aztec gold. The great lord who was their leader dressed
in shiny armor was Hernan Cortez.
       The welcome that Moctezuma gave did make a new world
possible, but not in the way that Moctezuma expected, for the world
of the Aztecs would soon come to an end.


Why did Moctezuma believe Hernan Cortez was Quetzalcoatl?
What signs were there that it was him? Why are ships “arriving from
the East” significant?
What do you think those strange things that the messengers were
describing were? What were those large beasts that the Spaniards
rode upon?
Do you think it was a mistake to welcome Cortez? Why?

In what ways is this story similar to the one we read entitled
“Encounter?” Why do they have almost the same message?
How do they show evidence of a clash of cultures?

In both stories, what are the “misunderstandings” on either side
of each encounter?
We know about the mistaken ideas of the Aztecs about the Spaniards,
but: What must the Spaniards have thought about the Aztecs, with
their many gods, temples and human blood sacrifices?

What would you say was the result of this encounter?
                       [Spanish version below]

                             Por A. Blasini

        Los Mayas, los Aztecas, Toltecas y muchas otras naciones
antiguas de Mexico y America Central tenían la misma leyenda
parecida. Se trataba de un ser sobrenatural y divino con muchos
poderes, que les habia les regalado toda la sabiduría y conocimiento
sobre la fertilidad y sobre el cultivo de plantas y así había ayudado a
los seres humanos.
        Los Mayas le decían Kukulcan. Los Toltecas y Aztecas le
llamaban Quetzalcoatl. Ambos nombres en el idioma Maya y en el
idioma Nahuatl, significan “Serpiente Pajaro Plumado.” Hay un
ave muy bonito en esas partes de color verde brillante que lleva un
rabo largo y bonito con plumas de cola que son muy coloridos.
Parece una culebra volando entre los ramos altos de la selva. Ese
pajaro se llama un “Quetzal.” Tal vez pensarian los indigenas que
este ave era el representante o mensajero del Dios Quetzalcoatl.
COATL = serpiente en Nahuatl (El lenguaje de los Azteca).
        Segun la leyenda…En los tiempos de antes, Quetzalcoatl les
había enseñado como sobrevivir, como plantar, cosechar, como usar
las ciencias, las matematicas y como mantener el mundo funcionando
por medio de los sacrificios y ceremonias a los dioses. Les dijo que
siguieran practicando todas esas costumbres para que el mundo
mantuviera en orden. Se convirtió en un hombre con el pelo amarillo
como la luz del sol, y con ojos el color del cielo, vestido con una
vestimenta que resplandecía como el Sol y sobre su cabeza tenia
puesta un yelmo dorado con plumas del quetzal. Se despidió de la
gente y se fue hacia donde sale el sol por la mañana. Desde el Este,
dijo que algun día regresaría y que cuando retornara iba a traerles
mucha prosperidad y fortuna. Les advirtió que cuando el volviera, le
dieran la bienvenida apropiada, porque se iba crear un nuevo mundo
y la tierra iba a comenzar de nuevo.
       En 1519, el Emperador de los Aztecas, Moctezuma habia
tenido sueños en que el dios Quetzalcoatl le dijo que venía pronto.
Un dia escuchó noticias que habian traido sus mensajeros. Contaban
que desde el Este habian llegado grandes canoas, o barcos de vela, en
que hombres de piel clara y ojos del color del cielo habian
desembarcado. Entre ellos habia un hombre de pelo dorado, vestido
con una vestimenta dura e impenetrable que resplandecía como el
       Los que acompañaban a ese ser sobrenatural llevaban unos
palos largos que disparaban fuego y llevaban un aparato que echaba
truenos y tumbaba edificios y las paredes de templos se desrumbaban.
Iban montados sobre unas bestias enormes de cuatro patas que
relinchaban y corrian con gran velocidad.
       Moctezuma pensó que este seguramente era Quetzalcoatl que
regresaba a la tierra para traer gran fortuna a su gente. Enseguida le
mandó regalos de oro y riquezas para ofrecerle como Bienvenida y le
invitó que viniera, que lo estaban esperando muchos siglos.
       Los extranjeros que llegaron no eran Quetzalcoatl con sus
compañeros del cielo. Eran los Españoles que habian llegado en
busca de oro Azteca. El gran Señor que era su lider, vestido con
armadura resplandeciente era Hernan Cortes.
       La bienvenida que le dió Moctezuma, logro hacer posible el
comienzo de un nuevo mundo, pero no en la manera que Moctezuma
pensaba, porque pronto el mundo de los Azteca iba a terminar.


¿Por qué Moctezuma pensó que Hernán Cortes era Quetzalcoatl?
Cuales señas hubieron que era él? ¿Por qué los barcos “llegando
desde el Este” es significante?
¿Que cosas describian los mensajeros que llevaban con ellos los
Españoles? ¿Por qué son raras para ellos esas cosas?
¿Que serían las bestias enormes que montaban los Españoles?
¿Piensas que fué un error darles la bienvenida a Cortes? ¿Por qué?

En qué se parece esta historia al libro titulado “Encuentro?”
¿Por qué tienen casi la misma enseñanza?
¿Como es que son evidencia de un choque cultural?
      ¿Cuales son los “malentendidos” de cada grupo que se encuentra
      en cada cuento?
      Sabemos la equivocacion de los Azteca hacia los Españoles, pero
      ¿Qué pensarían los Españoles de los Aztecas, con sus muchos dioses,
      templos y sacrificios humanos?

      ¿Qué, tu dirías fué el resultado de este encuentro?

                      Vean la tabla en la hoja titulada Choque Cultural

NOTE: Similar format can be used with different sources adapted to 8th
grade curriculum.

[e.g. Confrontations with Plains Indians 1870-1890; or Eastern European
Immigrants with Previous Immigrant Groups or Nativists, etc.]

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