Lesson Plan

The People:  Pre-1845

Picture of Chief Bad Gun (Son of Four Bears) Mandan Chief and Chief Four Dance Hidatsa
Picture of Chief Bad Gun (Son of Four Bears) Mandan Chief and Chief Four Dance Hidatsa
Three Tribes Museum
Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
History, Language Arts, Reading, Social Studies, Writing
45 - 60 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 24
National/State Standards:
ND State Standards
Social Studies:
Fourth Grade
4.2.2, 4.2.3, 4.2.4, 4.2.5, 4.2.6, 4.2.7, 4.2.8, 4.2.9, 4.2.10, 4.2.11, 4.3.2, 4.5.1, 4.5.3, 4.5.4, 4.6.1, 4.6.2, 4.5.6

Eighth Grade
8.1.1 ,8.1.2 


This lesson explores the history of the Three Affiliated Tribes from Pre-1845.  Students will learn about Early Villages, Sacagawea, and other people of historic significance who visited the region and villages for exploration and trade.

Students will create visual representations or graphic organizers that demonstrate connections among key concepts and ideas as concept maps.

See the extensions for an example of a concept map.


After completing this lesson, the students will:
Discuss and apply knowledge transfer through oral history as it was used by Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara.
Compare and contrast two or more groups: Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara people and mainstream America.
Express how time and place are important in history.


This lesson provides the background that students should have before they visit the park to ensure that they get the most out of their visit. 

Using the lessons:
Ideally the pre-visit lessons should all be completed prior to bringing the students to Knife River Indian Villages to ensure that students have a basic knowledge to facilitate deeper learning at the site.


Post-visit activities will provide an opportunity to revisit lessons learned and are intended to provide closure to the experience.


Concept Maps or Mind Maps are structured outlines that can effectively introduce new material to students (Buehl, 2001).  Students encounter and discuss new vocabulary before reading a challenging passage. They have a visual outline of major ideas and relationships between important information to guide them as they read. Lesson 1 uses the Mind Map technique to encourage students to consider how their prior knowledge fits into the new material they will study throughout the remainder of the curriculum.


Students are introduced to Hidatsa life ways through the book:Goodbird the Indian: His Story, depicting the life of Edward Goodbird, a Hidatsa Indian from Fort Berthold Reservation in Western North Dakota.

Please be sure to download the background reading for this lesson. You may need to click on the images tab for the documents tab to appear.




Step 1

Open by telling students that today they will be learning about:
How information was passed on in Hidatsa culture.
How some life ways were different from mainstream America but well adapted to life on the Northern Plains in the1800s.
How time and place are important in interpreting history.


Step 2

(Teacher Modeling)

Analyze the background materials in terms of the important ideas and concepts to be learned. Identify key facts and vocabulary from the reading and ignore any difficult terms in the text not essential to learning these concepts.


Step 3

Organize key concepts and vocabulary into a mind map that shows relationships and connections among the terms. Include visual elements such as arrows, boxes, circles, pictures or other creative touches.


Step 4

Present the map to the class to prepare them for learning new material.


Step 5

Ask students to copy the basic mind map into their journal and instruct them to read the background information provided.


Step 6

Ask students to add illustrations and terms from the central concept after reading.

Step 1
Set andSetting
Tell the students that they will be watching a video about the people who lived at the Knife River Villages to get an idea of what life was like in this special place. 

View the Multimedia Video The People available on the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site Media page here: http://www.nps.gov/knri/photosmultimedia/multimedia.htm


Step 2

Read Good Bird The Indian: His Story, Chapter 1, Birth. Ask for students to volunteer to read sections of this chapter out loud as others listen.


Step 3
Discuss the following questions:
What organization in your town resembles the Black Mouth Society?

How was oral history used to teach Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara children?

Explain other methods that were used to educate the children and others in the community. Other ways children were educated were through work in the gardens, maintaining the household, and through playing games.

What comparisons can you make with today's educational methods?

Step 1

Students will practice transferring knowledge by telling their personal stories.

nform the students that it is just as important to practice listening when passing on information through the oral tradition as it is to be able to tell the story, not only in class, but also outside of class.


Tell them that after they hear a story they should be able to tell the main points of where and when it occurred.


Step 2

Write the words where and when on the whiteboard or overhead.

The teacher should model active listening by having someone tell a story and repeating back to that person what was understood.


Tell the students, "It's time to share a story of your own life history. You will be practicing the oral traditional way of passing along knowledge so don't write it down. In this story be sure to tell the time and place, where and when it occurred."


Instruct students to pair up to share their stories with a classmate. And ask them to practice active listening (listening to understand) as their learning partner tells astory, then to tell their friend what they understood about their story.   


Ask if any students think they could share their partner's story (if their partner doesn't mind), or at least the highlights.


(An alternative might be to allow a shy student to share their story with the teacher).


Step 3
When the students have finished sharing their stories discuss the following questions:
Ask the students to discuss the benefits of passing on information through this method, and record their answers on the board and ask them to record the answers in their journals.
Ask them if they see any disadvantages to passing on information this way. Again write the student answers on the board while they record them in their journals.

Step 4

Revisit the topics with students that were discussed today.

Tell students that today they have been introduced to an important part of the life ways of the Hidatsa, Mandan and Arikara people including:
Early history of the people.
Oral tradition and education (ways of passing on knowledge).
Interactions with early explorersin the region.

Allow students to ask any questions that they might have at this time.


Step 1

Instruct students to, "Ask your grandparents or an elder to tell you a story that they were told by one of their grandparents. If they can't remember a story, ask them to tell you a story about an incident in life that taught them a lesson.


Step 2

Inform students that during the next lesson they will be re-enacting trade as it was done at Knife River Indian Villages and they will need to, "Bring one or two small items with you that you will use to trade with others at the school."

Explain that, "You can make these items yourself if you like. The items can be old or new and should be kept hidden from other students until you are actually going to do the trading. (Perhaps put them in a small paper bag).

Finally, tell them that the items they bring should not be of any great monetary or personal value. It should be something that they are willing to let go of in order to receive something else.

ell students that sometimes individuals would come to trade and sometimes families would. The teacher could designate which students will act as traders and which students will act as individuals or family members in a trading situation, or allow students to determine whether they would like to act as family units vs traders.

The teacher may opt to bring a couple of blankets on which to display the trade items for lesson 2.



Students ask questions as they read Good Bird The Indian: His Story.
Students share their personal stories in class.
Students answer the discussion questions.



Student mind maps will be complete and thorough with all of the main concepts incorporated.

Park Connections

This lesson provides the context for future learning by introducing students to the people, time and place where the cultural resources exist.

The purpose of Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site is to preserve,protect, and interpret archeological and natural resources as they relate to cultural and agricultural lifestyles of Northern Great Plains Indian peoples, and to conduct research to further understand how these lifestyles have changed over time.


Allow students to listen to the Hidatsa language by playing the CDs provided.

GoDigital with the mind mapping activity by incorporating iPads. Below is an example of a simple mind map that was created using a free app called Idea Sketch.

Another great way to connect this curriculum to the digital era would be to have students begin planning a Digital Story Telling project. They should begin thinking about the story of the Three Affiliated Tribes and what parts of each unit they would like to include in their story. There are free apps that can be used with the iPad such as Videolicious or this project can work very well in Windows Movie Maker a free movie editor for the PC environment.

uring the site visit students will be able to take digital photos to include in their story that can be shared among the entire class, otherwise there is always the Internet.

Additional Resources

Idea Sketch app for iPad

Multi media story board template

Educational Audio: Hidatsa words CD


Hidatsa, Mandan, Arikara, Trade network, artifact, earth lodge, quill work, beadwork, Sacagawea, Lewis and Clark, Corps of Discovery, oral recitation, societies, tribal origins Sakakawea, Sacajawea.