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 NMAI-DC-Education@si.edu to share your questions and teaching ideas.
Renee Gokey (Eastern Shawnee/Sac and Fox/Miami) Education Extension Services
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.