7. Famous Apsáalooke People of 2014: Kevin Red Star

(This is the Lesson Plan 7 for Shane Doyle (Crow) and Megkian Doyle’s curriculum unit, “Living within the Four Base Tipi Poles of the Apsáalooke Homeland.”)

Two 50-minute class periods

  • secondary

By Shane Doyle



CCSS Literacy SL 10-1

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS Literacy SL 10-1d

Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.

CCSS Literacy WHST 10-4

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS Literacy RH 10-5

Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.



Students will understand

  • Who Kevin Red Star is.
  • The subject matter involved in Red Star’s art.
  • Some ways in which people are drawn to Red Star’s work.
  • The significance of Crow names to Red Star’s work.
  • The purpose of an artist’s statement.
  • The reality and mythology of Plains Indian iconography.



  • Who is Kevin Red Star?
  • How does the Crow culture impact his art?
  • In what ways are Crow names important to him and his work?
  • What is important to you in your work?
  • How do we come to know each other?
  • What impact does knowing each other have on our classroom community?
  • In what ways does the artist use iconographic Plains Indian images to communicate his message?



Students will be able to

  • Identify some of the characteristics/iconography of Red Star’s work.
  • Understand some of the factors that influence Red Star’s work
  • Make connections between Crow names and Red Star’s work.
  • Identify important components of their lives and their influence on the work they do and the things they create.
  • Craft a concise and impactful artist statement.



Suggested Formative Assessment of Learning Outcomes

  • Active listening through note taking
  • Class discussion

Culminating Performance Assessment of Learning Outcomes

  • Twenty-five things list
  • Personal artist’s statement




  • Is anyone familiar with Kevin Red Star?
  • Look at the painting entitled “Early Morning Camp Along the Elk River” (The painting is shown at the end of this lesson if needed.) What do the title and the painting suggest to you about who he might be? As students explore, help them to remember where the name Elk River comes from (it is the Crow/Apsáalooke name for the Yellowstone River).
  • What perspective seems to be presented in the work?
  • What does the artist seem to know about as represented by what he paints and how he paints it?
  • How might the concept of Plains Indian iconography be related to this work?



Computer and internet access or printed copies of the articles listed below.



  • Auditory
  • Visual



Introduce the students to the Crow (Apsáalooke) artist, Kevin Red Star. Allow students to view the video below and also read the article about him.

Distinctly Montana Article, Artist Kevin Red Star

Before students begin reading the Distinctly Montana article, ask students to take notes. “As you read listen for the ways in which Crow names are and have been significant to Kevin Red Star and his work. Write these ways down as you hear them.” What does knowing Crow names do for Red Star and his art? (Reminds him of who he is in a centering way, causes him to look into the history of his tribe and know them better, and inspires what he wants to paint about.)

Kevin Red Star: Montana Influencer



Many artists create what are known as artist’s statements. “An artist’s statement is an artist’s written description of their work. The brief verbal representation is about and in support of, his or her own work to give the viewer understanding. As such it aims to inform, connect with an art context, and present the basis for the work; it is therefore didactic, descriptive, or reflective in nature.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artist_statement To say it simply, and artist’s statement attempts to explain why they do what they do. Most artists have a 50-100 word statement and a 500-1000 word statement and most will revisit and revise these many times over the course of their careers.



“Indian culture has in the past been ignored to a great extent. It is for me, as well as for many other Indian artists, a rich source of creative expression. An intertwining of my Indian culture with contemporary art expression has given me a greater insight concerning my art.” This is Kevin Red Star’s statement. It is 49 words long. After reviewing some of his work on his website, how well do you think this statement captures why he does what he does? Now think about yourself as an artist. Some of you may see yourselves as artists, while others of you may not. You may think, “I hate art, I can’t even draw a stick person.” But if you think a little deeper you will notice that in our lives we all create things and we create them for a reason. Even if you create computer programs, if you make them as a way to express your own ideas, you are an artist. Think about what it is that you make in life. What is it that you are passionate about creating? Once you have thought of this, again try to think about yourself as an artist. What is it about what you do that is important? Why do you create what you create?



Read the article “Twenty-five random things about you.”

Think about the Red Star article you read, the video you watched, and the artwork you viewed. Could you list 25 things you know about Kevin Red Star? Maybe not 25, but the information that you have had access to has allowed you to know him better as a person and that allows to you connect better with his art. Udell talks about how the Facebook generation uses 25-Things lists to get a sense of knowing others more intimately and maybe even giving us a reflective glimpse of ourselves we rarely take time to look at. At the end of the article the author gives the reader an assignment – to make a 25 things list as an artist. How about it?

Think about what is important to you, what makes you feel passionate, why you like the things you like, and where you got the foundation that you have? Then write a list of 25 things about yourself that essentialize these things. Find someone in the class who you feel you do not know as well as you would like, maybe someone you hardly know at all. Exchange lists with this person. Once you have read each other’s list talk about the kind of art you each see yourself creating. Then, together draft a 50-word artist statement that explains, “This is why I do what I do.” A 50-word statement must be very clear and very precise because it is so short. Sometimes the best approach to writing one is to say what you want to say and then work to carve this down to 50 words. Having a partner who can help you decide what is needed/not needed, what could be said in a more direct/shorter way can be very valuable. After crafting your statements, type them into a Word document. Use any font, but use size 20-24 letters, and make sure your 50 words can fit on one half sheet of 8.5 x 11” paper. Mount each half-sheet statement on a piece of construction paper. On the back of the paper, write your name. Post the statements around the room and number each statement. Allow students to travel around the room reading the statements. They should take a piece of notebook paper around with them. The paper should be numbered and for each corresponding statement the students should list to whom they think the statement belongs. After all of the students have listed their guesses, the correct authors should be revealed. Students should then post their 25-Things lists below their artist statement. Students should note which statements they guessed incorrectly and they should read the 25-Things lists corresponding to those statements. This will allow students to better know those they may not know well enough and help to build the classroom community. Closing question: What impact has today’s exercise had on our classroom community?



Struggling learners may need to have a printed copy of all articles and have more time to read and locate important points using a highlighter. Struggling learners may compose shorter lists. They may also be paired with a student who can help them to craft an artist statement. There are also artist statement generators on-line where students can fill in the blanks with their information and the program will generate a statement for them. Advanced learners could research the artist’s statements of other artists in other genres whose work interests them. They could also write, or make audio or video journals about how these statements provide insight into particular works of art.



Early Morning Camp along the Elk River, by Kevin Red Star used with permission

Early Morning Camp along the Elk River, by Kevin Red Star used with permission