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Kids learn building blocks of coastal Indigenous culture through Minecraft

Kids in BC can learn how to build and live in a traditional Indigenous village, with a mouse and keyboard.

Microsoft has published a special module for its Minecraft Education program called “A Pacific Northwest Coast Experience.” The mod for Minecraft, a popular block-building and survival game, lets players learn from elders and knowledge keepers, perform harvest tasks to help the village prepare for winter, and build a self-sustaining village on the coast.

A suggested lesson plan has kids learning about the village and the surrounding environment, then completing several build challenges, such as harvesting cedar bark and building bentwood boxes within the game.

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Western Red Cedar was added to the game, just for this mod, which also features red and green sockeye salmon.

The mod incorporates Indigenous perspectives in a virtual world, and includes lesson plans for teachers. Students will learn about Indigenous perspectives about the world, and learn how they lived on the coast from Washington to Alaska. The educator’s guide was developed by teachers from School District 43 in Coquitlam, and says it focuses on commonalities shared by coastal First Nations.

“It is important to note that although this world was developed in consultation with the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (kwikwetlam) First Nation, it is intentionally generalized in order to spark student inquiry about specific local nations… especially important for students who live and learn on their lands,” says the guide. “It can be a starting point for deep learning about place and understanding and respect for indigenous ways of knowing and being.”

Some artwork in the game depicts a lightning snake, inspired by the works of the late Nuu-chah-nulth artist Art Thompson of the Ditidaht Nation on southern Vancouver Island.

 

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