Lesson Plan One "The Legend of the Buffalo"
Objective: Students will examine and understand the significance of the buffalo in the life and spirit of the American Indian.
Procedure: Begin this lesson by reading an excerpt from the folktale
The Buffalo Go
. This folktale can be found in the book entitled
Native American Testimony
by Peter Nabokov. "…Everything the Kiowas had came from the buffalo…. There was war between the buffalo and the white man…. The white men hired hunters to do nothing but kill the buffalo. Up and down the plains those men ranged, shooting as many as a hundred buffalo a day. Behind them came the skinner with their wagons. They piled their hides and bones into their wagons until they were full… The buffalo saw that their day was over…" Tell students that perhaps the most significant blow to tribal life on the plains was the destruction of the buffalo. In 1800, approximately 15 million buffalo roamed the Great Plains; by 1886 fewer than 600 remained. Owners of the railroad hired buffalo hunters to accompany the workers and supply them with meat as they laid the tracks westward. William Cody killed nearly 4300 bison in eight months earning the nickname "Buffalo Bill." Tourists and fur traders shot the buffalo for sport from speeding railroad trains. Ask students if they can think of reasons that the destruction of one animal could severely affect the life of the Indian. Then offer the class the following information. The buffalo provided the Plains Indians with their main source of food, clothing and shelter. In addition the skull of the buffalo was considered sacred and was used in many Indian rituals. The hide was used for clothing, teepees and arrow shields; the bones were made into hide scrapers, tool handles, sled runners, and hoe blades. The horns were carved into bowls and spoons. Teachers should assign students the task of creating posters that demonstrate the various uses of the buffalo in Indian life.
Once students have finished their posters, teachers might have the students view the buffalo hunt that was filmed in the movie
Dances With Wolves
. The hunt is wonderfully recreated showing the importance of the buffalo for the Lakota Sioux as well as the acceptance of the white man, John Dunbar by the Lakota Sioux.
Materials Used: Large poster paper, colored markers, book
Native American Testimony
Dances With Wolves
Lesson Plan Two "Reservation Profiles"
Objective: Students will become familiar with and understand the problems that exist on present day Indian Reservations.
Procedure: Teachers should first present the following information to their class concerning modern day reservations. By moving reservations away from the major routes of white commerce in the 20th century, the U.S. government inadvertently provided many tribes with energy resources. Controversy has erupted in some western states as to ownership of this energy rich land. Who should control the land that is rich in oil and natural gas? Although many Native Americans regard their reservation land as sacred, most reservations are still underdeveloped, and their inhabitants among the poorest in the nation. They lack adequate health care, educational opportunities, employment opportunities, etc. Students should be taken to the library to asscess information on the modern day reservation:life. Possible reservations include Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock, and Crow Creek. Students should gather information on the following topics: tribe(s) living on this reservation, location of the reservation, population, and ancestry, how the reservation came to be, and current living conditions. Once students have acquired all of their information they should chart it on a very large poster board and be able to present it back to the class for discussion. Information on each reservation should be presented on the poster board with a different color marker. After the presentations students might enjoy viewing the film
. What is most absorbing about this film is its sense of time and place. In
the audience gets a real visual sense of the reservation, not only the poverty and the substandard of living, but also the beauty and sacredness of the land.
Materials Used: the library, large poster board, the film
Lesson Plan Three "Outstanding Dates and Events as they Relate to the History of the Native Americans"
Objective: Students will examine and understand the significance of the key events and outstanding dates as they relate to the history of Native Americans.
Procedure: Before class begins the teacher should write each of the events listed below on a separate large index card. The events are listed in chronological order. Begin the activity by explaining to students that their assignment is in two parts; first, they are about to create a human time line on the events listed below. Randomly distribute the cards. Direct students to read the information on their card. They are responsible for placing themselves in line in correct chronological order. Second, they must place the event in historical context. Students will have to do some research from their textbook
in order to write a description of each event. Teachers should designate the starting and ending points for the human time line, Direct the rest of the class to decide among themselves where along the line they should stand to create an accurate chronology.
Materials Used: large index cards, textbook
The following time line presents a brief glimpse into the key events and dates and the history of Native Americans between 1851-1934
1851 The Fort Laramie Treaty is signed
1858 Gold and silver is discovered in Colorado
1862 The Homestead Act is passed
1862 Congress passes the Pacific Railroad Act
1863 Chief Red Clouds War begins
1868 Sioux are guaranteed the Black Hills of South Dakota as a permanent reservation
1870 Plains and mountain Indians are forced to accept reservations; buffalo skins are sought by eastern businesses
1874 Buffalo herds are all but wiped out
1876 Battle of Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull flees to Canada
1877 Nez Pierces attack mining settlements; Chief Joseph and his tribe flee to Canada
1881 A Century of Dishonor is published
1887 The Dawes Act is passed
1889 The Oklahoma land rush
1890 The Battle of Wounded Knee
1924 American Indians are granted full citizenship and voting rights by Congress
1934 Congress restores tribal organization and local control of reservations to the American Indian
Lesson Plan Four "Plains Pictographs"
Objective: Students will become familiar with the Plains Indian tradition of drawing pictographs on buffalo hides to chronicle significant events in their history.
Procedure: Teachers will begin this activity by explaining to students that Indians of the Great Plains did not have a written language. Instead significant events in their lives were chronicled through art. They drew pictures on the hides of the buffalo, which they carried from place to place as they wandered the Great Plains. Many of their pictures were in the forms of symbols. The chief of the tribe who would use the pictographs from the past to explain their history told stories. Nature has always played a dominant role in Native American art. Mighty buffaloes, eagles, coyotes, as well as basic elements, like earth, water, and sky appear again and again in native art works. The symbolism of such gifts of nature generally linked the sacredness of land in Native tradition ad culture. The land is the center of religion and spirituality and it is the lifeblood of all things living. Usual events on the pictographs represented events that had an impact on the entire tribe rather than one person. Images were drawn without perspective and most humans were drawn in profile. They usually drew animals, humans, objects and geographical surroundings. Teachers should divide the class into groups of three or four and have them recreate an event from the time line in Lesson Plan Three. They are to tell the story of the event through the eyes of a Native American. When the posters are completed each group should present it to the class, but first have the students from each group ask their classmates if they can recognize the scene that is being recreated.
Materials Used: Large poster paper, colored markers, textbook The Americans
Lesson Plan Five "Vocabulary List for the Unit"
Objective: Students will become familiar with and understand vocabulary that is associated with the history of the Plains Indians.
Procedure: Teachers will distribute the meanings of the vocabulary list associated with the Plains Indians. Students are to take the list home and study them for homework. The next day teachers should divide the class into four or five teams. A review of the terms will then take place by playing the game of jeopardy. The team, which has the highest score by the end of class, should be given a reward to be decided upon by the classroom teacher.
Materials Used: Vocabulary list on the Plains Indians
1.assimilation- a minority groups adoption of the beliefs and ways of a dominant culture
2.Americanize- to make Native Americans accept Christianity, American education, and individual land ownership
3. Bureau of Indian Affairs- responsible for carrying out the government's Indian policies
4. allotment- amount of land set aside for each Native American family
5 Black Hills- located in South Dakota; site of the 1874 confrontation between frontier settlers and Native Americans
6.concentration-early policy of confining Native Americans to certain areas in the west
7. A Century of Dishonor- written by Helen Hunt Jackson, portrayed white settlers injustice towards Native Americans
8.. The Dawes Act- 1887, a law enacted that intended to "Americanize" the Indian by distributing reservation land to individual owners
9. exodusters -African Americans who migrated west from the south after the Civil War
10. The Five Civilized Tribes- Native Americans who were eventually pushed west into Oklahoma territory; consisted of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole and Creek
11. The Forty-niners- people who fled to Colorado in 1859 in search of gold and silver
12. Great Plains- land between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains
13. Great American Desert- name given to the Great Plains when explorers pronounced the area to dry for habitation
14. Ghost Dance- a Native American ritual intended to bring about the restoration of tribal life
15 Ghost Shirts-worn by the Native Americans while performing the Ghost Dance; thought to be bullet proof and keep them from harm
16. gold rush- brought people to the west in search of gold; clash occurred over Indian lands
17. Homestead Act- a law enacted in 1862 that provided 160 acres of free land in the west if settlers would live on it and farm it for five years
18. homesteader- a person who took advantage of the Homestead Act
19. Indian Removal Act- a law enacted in 1830 that forced Native Americans east of the Mississippi to move to lands in the West
20. iron horse- the name given to the train by the Indians
21. Indian Boarding Schools- schools for Native American children; taught the ways of the white man
19. Little Big Horn- famous battle in which General George Custer and the entire 7th cavalry were annihilated by the Sioux
20. The Measuring Woman- name given to Alice Fletcher who would measure land for Native Americans under the Dawes Act
21. pemmican- buffalo meat mixed with berries
22. Trail of Tears- refers to the movement of the Cherokee from Georgia to Indian Territory; thousands died along the route
23. Termination Policy. 1953- the U.S. government's plan to give up responsibility for Native American tribes by eliminating federal economic support, discontinuing the reservation system and redistributing tribal lands
24. ward of the government-status of the Native Americans on the reservation which made them dependent on the federal government for the necessities of life