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The Mandan Buffalo Dance

Objectives: Students will be able to:

  • Relate the artistic practices of Plains Indian cultures to two other cultures in a short oral presentation.
  • Understand the goals of Plains Indians by creating similar work.
  • Explain the process they went through in creating their artistic work.
  • Discuss the differences between Plains Indian tribes and their dependence on the buffalo.

Standards: U.S. History, Visual Arts, English Language Arts, Geography.

Skills Addressed: Linguistic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Spatial, Logical, and (depending on how students choose to convey the final portion of the exercise) Musical, Naturalist, and/or Bodily-Kinesthetic.

Interdisciplinary Connections: Art, Music, English/Language Arts, History/World Cultures, Drama.

Length: Four to five fifty-minute class periods.

Materials: Internet access, art supplies (colored pencils, paper, scissors, magazines, glue, water colors, paintbrushes, etc.), paper, pencils/pens.

Products: An oral presentation comparing and contrasting the artistic practices of three artists from three cultures all responding to the same theme; creative expression of something (physical or conceptual) that the student feels he or she cannot live without; an oral or written presentation about the student's artistic process.

Content Introduction: The Mandan and the Sioux depended so heavily on certain animals that they would starve without them. In the Southwest, the Hopi and Zuni depended as heavily on annual rainfall for their survival. In each of these cases, the tribes created interpretive dances to encourage the arrival of something that was so important to their survival that they would die without it. In this lesson, students will learn how several Native American tribes constructed their dances and dedications, and how people have used dance, poetry, music, art, or other expressions to make a dedication to a physical or conceptual thing. Students will make their own dedications and perform or display them to each other.

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Lesson Plan Table of Contents

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