Lesson Plan

Economy and Trade: Pre 1845

Trading relations of the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians.
Trading relations of the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians during the decades immediately around A.D. 1800.


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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
History, Language Arts, Reading, Writing
45 - 60 min
Group Size:
Up to 24
National/State Standards:
ND State Standards
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


In Economy and Trade:  Pre 1845, students will learn about trade relations between tribes prior to European contact and how their experience prepared them for success in dealing with explorers and traders after European contact by re-enacting trading as it was practiced at Knife River Villages. 


After completing this lesson,the students will:
Identify and Apply trading strategies used by the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara.
Compare and contrast two or more groups: Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara people and Mainstream America and identify that all people have different perspectives of history.


This is a cooperative learning lesson filled with student engagement. Students will be given an opportunity for linguistic learning through journaling and discussion,visual learners will have plenty of props to look at, and kinesthetic learners will move during the reenactment of trade. 



Students ask and answer questions during discussion and during the re-enactment.
Students ask questions during their visit to KNRI.
Students apply basic business principals of trade such as placing a value on items and salesmanship.

Students will be observed as they apply basic business principals and strategies through the trade re-enactment.
Students practice journaling in the closing of the lesson by writing the three most important things they learned today about trade.

Park Connections

The location of the Knife River Villages was central to the other people that needed items produced at the site, and it was also located close to Knife River flint. This along with the Agricultural items produced by the Hidatsa women allowed them to develop successful trading relations with other tribes and later with European explorers and traders who frequented the area


If students are developing a digital story, they should think about what parts of this lesson are important to them,and what parts they would like to include in their story. They should begin writing key points intotheir story boards and searching for and selecting  images to support their stories.

Interested students may continue reading Good Bird the Indian: His story.

During your visit to the park, ask students to reflect on their own trade experience and if they have any questions that they can ask a ranger.

Additional Resources

Wood, R. (1985). Early fur trade on the northern plains: Canadian traders among the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians, 1738-1818. (Vol. 68, p. 48). Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.


Discrete, Artifact, earth lodges, quillwork, beadwork

Last updated: April 10, 2015