Enrichment Unit: Understanding Indigenous Historical Trauma Via a Short, Middle Grade Novel, Fatty Legs: A True Story

By reading the fictionalized memoir account of Canadian boarding school survivor Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (Inuvialuit) in the short, middle-grade novel Fatty Legs: A True Story and primary source documents, students can explore topics related to the Doctrine of Discovery, colonization, boarding schools, historical and generational trauma of Indigenous Peoples, and Indigenous resistance. Students can be directly taught to look through a lens of empathy to understand both the unfairness Margaret Pokiak-Fenton experienced as well as the remarkable strengths that she, and many survivors like her, drew on to resist acculturation and endure. This collection of lessons assumes students have very little understanding of present day Indigenous Peoples. Students show learning in two final projects about boarding schools and their effects: 1) Compassionate Understanding of a Survivor’s Experience and 2) Historical Trauma and Resilient Survivance.

School name: 

C.O. Harrison Elementary School

School district: 

Oak Hills Local Schools, Ohio



Grade Level: 


Subject Area Focus: 

English Language Arts
Social Studies/History

Estimated days to complete: 


Creator Name: 

Kate Ramsdell