Lesson Plan

Art of the Story

A painting which depicts an oral history from the Cheyenne culture, showing a giant bear climbing Devils Tower.

Overall Rating

Add your review
Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
4.RL.1, 4.RL.2, 4.RL.3, 4.RL.5, 4.RL.7, 4.RL.9, 4.RL.10, 5.RL.2, 5.RL.3, 5.RL.9, 5.RL.10
Additional Standards:
Visual Arts Standards; Social Studies Standards
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.

Essential Question

What do oral histories from American Indian cultures about Devils Tower tell us about the connections between this place and American Indians today?


Students will learn about three different tribes associated with Bear Lodge (Devils Tower). They will read oral histories from these tribes, and may compare/contrast the stories, draw pictures based on the stories the read, and understand the cultural connections modern American Indians have with the Tower site.


There are 26 tribes associated with the Tower site. Each tribe has its own history and culture. With those cultures come different names for the Tower, and different oral histories linking tribes to this place. This lesson, and its associated distance learning program, will explore some of the most well-known connections different tribes have with the Tower. It will offer students an opportunity to learn more about a specific oral history, and how those are relevant to American Indians today.


1) Download and/or print the Lesson Plan PDF at the top of this page.

2) Download and/or print the materials PDFs from the materials section below.

3) Gather blank paper and drawing materials (markers, colored pencils, etc.) for your class; students may work individually or in groups.


Use this 2-page PDF to allow your students to read a sacred narrative from the Cheyenne culture.

Download Cheyenne Narrative

Use this 1-page PDF to allow your students to read a sacred narrative from the Kiowa culture.

Download Kiowa Narrative

Use this 1-page PDF to allow your students to read a sacred narrative from the Lakota culture.

Download Lakota Narrative

You students can use this worksheet to answer basic questions about the story they read.

Download Elements of a Story Worksheet

Lesson Hook/Preview

Could a giant bear be the reason why the Tower looks like it does?


Download the lesson plan PDF (top of page) and follow the instructions within.

You will also need to download the PDF files for copies of sacred narratives and the lesson's worksheet.


  • Indigenous - Descended from the original inhabitants of a region
  • Oral History - A story passed down through generations of a culture through the medium of spoken words
  • Sacred Narrative - A cultural story which explains how the world and humanity came to be in their present forms
  • Reservation - An area of land designated as a sovereign nation for American Indian tribes
  • Sovereign (adj) - Possessing supreme or ultimate power

Additional Resources

Check the park's "Photos & Multimedia" section for pictures of Devils Tower.

Contact Information

Email us about this lesson plan

Last updated: December 13, 2018