The Mandan

American Indians of the Plains

Object Type: Video Clip
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American Indians of the Plains

The American Indian view of holding land was very different from that of the European settlers that would cross the Great Plains. In this video students will meet the tribes that followed the American buffalo and understand how their nomadic way of life was changed by land ownership. They will understand how treaties affected land use and the ability to survive of many tribes of American Indians. The concept of tribal sovereignty is also introduced. Students will see the poverty of the Pine Ridge Reservation, but be inspired by the amazing contributions of Billy Mills, who was born on that reservation and became the first American Olympic Gold Medal Winner in a distance race.

Enjoy this brief introduction to Native Americans on the Plains through folk tales, where they lived, how they lived with each other and how they live today.

  1. Students will appreciate the culture and history of the American Indians of the Plains.
  2. Students will understand how some native groups thrived, using the land and natural resources to their advantage.
  3. Students will learn about the conflicts among native peoples, and between these tribes and European-heritage American settlers.
  4. Students will understand the present day struggles and contributions of the American Indians of the Plains.

  1. Compare and Contrast. Even within the same region, different tribes of Plains people had different roles for men and women and children. Using a chart, illustrate the different gender roles in each tribe shown in the video. Compare these gender roles to those in your own family. For extension, compare with other cultures around the world. Discuss your findings in small groups or as a class.
  2. Oral History. Most American Indian tribes have a strong oral history -- stories passed down through generations to teach lessons. Think of a lesson that you have learned from your parents or grandparents or another role model. Write a story to try to teach that same lesson to others. Share your story with your classmates and see if they can guess what lesson you are trying to teach.

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