“Remember” by Joy Harjo

Photograph of the Sandia Mountains at sunset overlooking the Rio Grande
Photo caption

The Sandia Mountains at sunset overlooking the Rio Grande

G. Thomas at en.wikipedia June 2006

The foundation of a 21st-century American community is shared respect among individuals who come from different backgrounds, places, and experiences. Native Americans take that concept even further by valuing all the inhabitants of the earth and sky—animal, vegetable, mineral, and spirit. As first inhabitants of our land, they set a model for inclusiveness in light of diversity. In her poem “Remember,” Joy Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation reminds us to pay attention to who we are and how we’re connected to the world around us.

This lesson plan provides a sequence of activities that you can use with your students before, during, and after reading “Remember.” Use the whole sequence, or any of the activities, to help your diverse learners enter, experience, and explore the meaning of the poem. Feel free to adjust each activity to meet the needs of your particular students. This lesson can be adapted for secondary students in grades 6–12.

Link to a video of the poet, Joy Harjo, reading “Remember.”

This lesson is an adaptation of an original lesson by the Academy of American Poet’s Educator in Residence, Madeleine Fuchs Holzer

Guiding Questions

No Guiding Questions

Learning Objectives

Students will listen to a Native American song for its sounds and rhythms in order to understand how it is structured.

Students will compare the structures and content of a spoken and written poem to those in a Native American song.

Students will explore poetry as a means of understanding the most important things to remember about their particular heritage.

Students will explore poetry as a means of understanding; the most important things to remember to keep our American community alive and functioning in the 21st century.