Lesson Plan


Garrison Dam Picture
Garrison Dam North Dakota
NPS Picture


For the Hidatsa, transportation provided a means of moving from place to place as necessary, and a way to gather the resources needed for trade and community well-being.


The students will:
Discuss travel then and now.
Research design and build a bullboat.


Lesson 3 integrates active listening and discussion as students learn about transportation from Good Bird The Indian: His Story. Then they research bullboats and design and build a bullboat using the Internet and materials provided by the teacher.

A set of instructions is included in the kit for use with lower grade levels.        


Student Background Reading
Book- GoodBird the Indian:His Story
Instructions to build a bull boat
CD - Hidatsa Language


Tell students that today they will be learning about transportation during the Knife River Indian Villages Days. They will listen to the way Good Bird described bullboats, and research how bullboats were made in order to design and construct their own bullboats out of materials provided.



Spark student interest by asking them what they already know about bull boats and transportation used by the Hidatsa, Mandan andArikara. Answers will vary, accept all answers within reason.



Model reading to gain understanding by reading the following sections about bull boats from Good Bird The Indian: His Story:

pp. 7; 9-10; & 47.



Teacher lead discussion

You may want to provide the focus questions before reading the section and discuss them after the reading.


After reading the background information, ask the students:
1.    What materials were used to make bull boats and who made them?
2.    What were some of the ways that Good Bird described using bull boats?
3.    What other modes of transportation did Good Bird describe in these readings?



In the computer lab or in a classroom with Internet access.


Guide student inquiry by asking them what some things are that they would "Like to Know" about bull boats. List student responses on a whiteboard or in another place where all answers can beseen.


Instruct them to search the web for information about bull-boats that grabs their interest.


Tell them to pay particular attention to anything they find about bullboat construction and to come up witha plan about how they can construct a model bullboats with the materials provided.


One web-site to visit is:  http://lewis-clark.org/content/content-article.asp?ArticleID=1002

Provide students a list of materials that will be supplied for their bull boat construction to facilitate planning. A suggested list of materials for building bullboats includes:

1 large brown paper bag                   poster board

1 large mixing bowl                           old newspaper

scissors                                         tape

tape measure


Allow students time to plan their bull boat construction either ontheir own or as part of a team.


Step 6


Have the students build a model of a bull boat using information they found online, in books or in the kit. Below is an example on how to build a full size bull boat.


Two sticks of 1-1/4 inch diameter are tied together so as to form around hoop of the size you wish the boat to be, or as large as the skin will cover. Two of those hoops are made, one for the top or brim, and the other for the bottom. Then sticks of the same diameter are crossed at right angles and fastened with a thongs to each hoop, and also where each stick crosses the other. Then the skin, when green [fresh, that is, not tanned] is drawn tight over the frame and fastened with thongs to the brim, or outer hoop, so as to form a perfect basin.


Step 7
1.    Ask students what are some of the most interesting things they learned about transportation.
2.    Tell students that today they learned about transportation and how the Three Affiliated Tribes got themselves and the things they needed from place to place.



Students ask questions during reading and discussion.
Students ask and answer questions during the research phase of their bull boat project. 


Students answer discussion questions

Park Connections

Situated on the Missouri River transportation corridor, the villages were an integral part of a vast trading empire; a crossroads of culture where trade goods, ideas, technology, spirituality, and world views were shared.


Bring in a large container, fill it with water and allow students to test their boats to see what kind of load they could transport.
Have a competition to determine who can transport the heaviest load. One suggestion would be to see how many apples their boat could carry and allow the students to eat a healthy snack after the competition.


Bull boat, willow, cottonwood, horses, travois, burden