Levina Wilkins

Lesson 1 – Who Am I?

Domestic Violence Lesson 1:  Who am I?


Goal: This lesson assists the young and older adult in understanding the stages of life and beginning to ask the question, “Who am I?”


Part 1: We begin with reviewing the stages of life and what it means to be a teenager. We will then review and discuss what it is to grow up as a Native American/Indian person. Each participant shares an opinion on how to answer the question, “Who am I?”

Part 2: We do an activity called LIFE LINE which offers an awareness of where we have come from and what significant events and people have been with us through our life.

Part 3: Introduction to the Hero’s Journey


Part 1: Identity: Who am I?


Stages of Life:  Who am I?

Indigenous peoples and cultures recognize that living is a movement through the circle of life. Many tribes identify four stages in life:

1)   We are born as small babies and play as children.

2)   We grow as children and learn as young adults.

3)   We live as adults with responsibilities.

4)   We share and teach as Elders prepared for death.

Teenager:  Who am I?

It is said that when we are teenagers we begin to decide who we are, who we want to be, and how we choose to live.  We review two sources describing what the traits of teenagers are.  What do you think?

Are the following statements true? Please vote with: = <

The Global Virtual Classroom website was created and designed by teenagers from three different schools in Mexico, Russia, and USA.   They identified FIVE common psychological traits for teenagers across cultures.

1)   Teenagers have big changes physically.

2)   Teenagers have a feeling of being adult.

3)   Teenagers have ability for learning and acquiring practical skills.

4)   Teenagers have a necessity to be with others.

5)   Teenagers have understandings of individuality. 

When typing in “teenager traits” in Google, Answers.com reports the following answers:


1)   Teenagers are self-conscious

2)   Teenagers love to explore & try new things

3)   Teenagers show sudden mood swings

4)   Teenagers don't want their parents to meddle on their hairstyle, etc...

5)    Teenagers prefer to do things on their own

6)    Teenagers demand independence

7)    Teenagers become interested in sex

8)    Teenagers are self-centered


Indian:  Who am I?

People across all cultures and in all places of the world grow up with an idea of who they are.  They figure this out from what they experience from their families, from their homes, or from the way they are treated.  Often, we aren’t told or we are taught what “NOT” to be.  Understanding “who I am” is a very difficult task. Many wise people tell us that it is a life process through the steps of life.  One of the biggest controversies in Indian and non-Indian worlds is the understanding of “who is an Indian?” There are hundreds of books, articles, debates, and discussions that occur on this topic.  As a personal step towards understanding ourselves we review TWO definitions from Indian people to check in with ourselves to see what we believe.  This exercise is not to decide the “right” answer but rather to think about the question.


Do you agree with these statements?  Please vote with: = <

1)   "An Indian is an Indian regardless of the degree of Indian blood or which little government card they do or do not possess." Wilma Mankiller, Cherokee Chief

2)   "An Indian is one who offers tobacco to the ground, feeds the water, and prays to the four winds in his own language." Henry Real Bird, Crow

Part 2: Identity: LIFE LINE

Activity: Life Line

The following activity will provide a way to review your life, significant events, and the men and women whom have helped you as you have been growing up.  Please do the following paper and pencil task:

1)   Make a symbol on the upper left hand corner of a piece of paper which signifies your birth.

2)   Make a symbol on the lower right hand corner of the same paper which signifies your death.

3)   Draw a line like a path or road from your birth to your death.  It can go straight or curved or move in whatever direction you choose.  This is your LIFE LINE.

4)   Return to your birth symbol and move along your LIFE LINE making pictures, symbols, or notes along your LIFE LINE that note significant events and people.  Place dates by these notations.  Please note ALL events and people, both good and bad.  This is a way to be honest.

5)   Turn your paper over and write the names of all the men and women in your family.

6)   When you are finished, share your LIFE LINE with someone of importance to start talking about your lineage.

Part 3: Hero’s Journey


Life is change. Often times the change in our lives seem random and unpredictable. People are often stuck in a circumstance they seek to change, but are unclear as to how to even begin or understand that the change they seek is a struggle they must prepare for.

Our ancestors understood human life changes and explained them through stories we call the Hero’s Journey. This universal story tells how a human being transforms from one level of development to a higher level; how a human transforms from a young person to an adult; how a person must struggle to make this transformation. These stories then become a guide to understanding how positive change occurs in our lives.

The Hero’s Journey has five steps of change:

  1. The story begins with a person who is an orphan; or someone who feels like an orphan; alone, separate, different, and misunderstood.
  2. The orphan begins to wander, hoping they might find answers.
  3. As the orphan wanders, they meet people and learn to care more for the others than they do for themselves.
  4. The person on the journey must now meet a challenge.
  5. The Hero, having met the challenge, returns to where they started as a new person and they bring back a gift to their people.

The Elder

The Elder helps the person on their journey. The Elder has taken the journey before and wants to help and instruct the Hero. They tell them what words to say, what paths to take, etc. They are a guide and a teacher.

Conclusion: Who am I?

This lesson has offered a time of self-reflection through definitions of identity, review of our lives, and beginning to understand a mythic story that can provide for us some understandings.  It is a good place to begin to share with an Elder or someone that you trust more about yourself.