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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Native Trees, Native Peoples

Children crossing a bridge to start Native Trees, Native Peoples program.
Children crossing a bridge to start NTNP program

Grades 3-5

Native Trees, Native Peoples is a two-hour program focusing on a selection of native New England trees that provided food, shelter, medicine, and transportation to Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands. Students learn to look carefully at the characteristics of specific trees and use these observations to identify several evergreen and deciduous trees in the Conifer Collection of the Arboretum that were used to meet basic survival needs.

Students travel in small groups using hand-held plant material as clues to help them recognize the trees used by Native Peoples. These clues include leaf silhouettes, tree architecture, bark samples, cones, and seeds. After locating each tree, students collect plant material, draw, or make a written record of each tree that captures its unique qualities.

Throughout this field study, students use their senses and descriptive language to express their observations, comparing and contrasting between similar evergreen or deciduous trees. Along the way, they also learn fascinating information related to daily life of Indigenous people from our region. Students take their work and sorted plant collections back to school for further investigations and sharing.

If you are a Boston Public School teacher and would like to register for a program, email Ana Maria Caballero or call 617.384.9032.

MA Science Standard correlations:

  • 3-LS3-1 Provide evidence, including through analysis of data, that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exist in a group of similar organisms.
  • 3-LS4-3 Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular environment some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive.
  • 3-LS4-4 Analyze and interpret given data about changes in a habitat and describe how the changes may affect the ability of organisms that live in that habitat to survive and reproduce.
  • 4-LS1-1 Construct an argument that animals and plants have internal and external structures that support their survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

MA Social Studies Standard 3.T2: How did Native Peoples live in New England before Europeans arrived?