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Winter 2014What's New at NMAI

imagiNATIONS Activity Center

Welcome to our new teacher e-newsletter!

Welcome, teachers! We’re excited to share our first quarterly e-newsletter with you. This is your source for NMAI educational offerings, including teacher workshops, exhibits and events, classroom resources, and more. Please take a moment to register with us here if you aren’t already on our list, and feel free to forward this e-newsletter to a friend. E-mail us, too, at to share your questions and teaching ideas.

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Renee Gokey
(Eastern Shawnee/Sac and Fox/Miami)
Education Extension Services

image of a horse with Lakota tack

New Horse Film

Native people have traditionally regarded the animals in their lives as fellow creatures with which they share a common destiny. That intimate bond between human and animal is nowhere so evident or powerful as in the case of the horse. Use this short film to deepen student understanding of the horse and contemporary Native people. Run time: 7 minutes.


Schedule a Tour

NMAI-DC phone: 202-633-6644
NMAI-NY phone: 212-514-3705
NMAI-DC Email:
NMAI-NY Email:

General Questions: 202-633-6700

NMAI Main Website
NMAI for Educators & Students Page


Cultural Presentation
Meet a Cultural Interpreter and learn about materials from throughout the Americas.
NMAI-NY - Weekdays, 2-4 pm

The Art of Storytelling Presents
Pueblo Stories and Songs

Join Gregory Analla (Isleta/Laguna) as he shares songs and tales from his Pueblo culture.
NMAI-NY - February 18-21, 2014



Cerámica de los Ancestros:
Central America's Past Revealed

NMAI-DC - Through February 01, 2015

imagiNATIONS Activity Center
NMAI-DC - A place for fun and exploration

Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes
NMAI-NY - Through June 15, 2014

Circle of Dance
NMAI-NY - Through October 08, 2017


Classroom Resources


Teacher Instructions

Meet the Artist

Introduction to His Fight's Horse Raid

His Fight's Story and Key

Narrative Art Activity

Horse Raiding and Counting Coup in WWII: The Story of Joe Medicine Crow

In Focus 

The Importance of the Horse in Plains Cultures

His Fight's (Hunkpapa Lakota) painting of a horse raid
His Fight's (Hunkpapa Lakota) painted muslin depicting a horse raid, ca. 1880. South Dakota or North Dakota.
National Museum of the American Indian. (6/7932)

New ways to teach about Plains Indians

Native Americans from the Great Plains region have created pictorial art on stone, animal hides, and later, paper and cotton muslin. Narrative drawings were almost exclusively created by men and featured their accomplishments. The painting by His Fight, is an example of narrative art that depicts a horse raid. Horses were a form of wealth, and Plains men such as His Fight would acquire as many as they could. This often required sneaking into enemy camp and taking the best horses. Visual clues in this painting by His Fight shows that he is the artist and main character in the story.

Although today we may consider the taking of horses as stealing, in traditional culture it was considered an honorable act. Plains-style pictographic art continues today. Like their ancestors, contemporary Native American artists feature important events from their lives in their art work.

Read More
Introduction to His Fight's Horse Raid

 Lakota horse raid

Art, Culture, and History Lessons

Elementary, Middle, and High School

His Fight's Story and Key

Narrative Art

These lessons let students examine a painting that tells about horse raiding. His Fight plans the raid and then enlists his friends to come along. An image key helps your students understand the story. In a follow-up activity, students can create their own narrative art using inspiration from His Fight's tradition.



What do you think is happening in the picture above?

Who is the main character?

How does the artist depict movement?

What scene do you think is most important to the story in this drawing? Why?

How does His Fight's story show Plains values?

How are traditional Plains values different or similar to your own?

Find the answers to these questions and more

 image of Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow

Middle and High School

Joseph Medicine Crow:
A Modern Horse-Raiding Story

There is a strong tradition of American Indians serving in the military to protect their country and people. Joseph Medicine Crow is the last living war chief of the Crow Nation. By analyzing a primary source, learn more about how he counted coup on the Nazis during World War II to become a war chief in his culture. Learn more about the cultural and spiritual importance of the horse!

To Learn More

A Song for the Horse Nation exhibition site
Lone Dog's Winter Count teaching poster
Lakota Winter Counts online exhibition
A Life In Beads: The Stories a Plains Dress Can Tell teaching poster
Native Words/Native Warriors website

Clifford Trafzer, ed. American Indians/American Presidents: A History. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian, 2009.

Herman Viola, Warriors in Uniform: The Legacy of American Indian Heroism. National Geographic, 2008.

Did You Know

Do All Indians Live in Tipis?

No, most American Indians live in contemporary homes, just like other citizens in the twenty-first century. Tipis are the traditional home of Plains Indians, but in other regions of the Western Hemisphere Native people lived in many kinds of dwellings such as hogans, wigwams, longhouses, or igloos.

Read more

Tell Us What You Think

We'd like to hear from you. Let us know what you think of the resources we provided. Did you use any of these materials or websites in class? Were they helpful? What else would you like to see?

Contact Us

Coming Next Issue

Infinity of Nations:
Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian

This spectacular, permanent exhibition of some 700 works of Native art from throughout North, South, and Central America demonstrates the breadth of the museum's renowned collection and highlights the historic importance of many of these iconic objects.

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