(These are the curriculum expressions that are the backbone for Shane Doyle’s teaching unit, “Traditional Native Games Along the Lewis and Clark Trail.”)
Students will understand that:
- Competition and competitive games have been an essential aspect of cultural life for First Nations people throughout North America.
- Northern Plains tribal communities viewed warfare as a form of competitive challenge, and therefore recognized the “counting of coups” when a warrior bests his opponent and both individuals live to retell the story.
- Traditional games are abundant in tribal communities along the Lewis and Clark Trail, and many continue to be played in the 21st century.
- Health and wellness are essential aspects of Native games.
- Tribes along the Lewis and Clark Trail trained boys from an early age to become physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually resilient.
- An all-Indian girls team became world champions in basketball in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair. The Ft. Shaw Boarding School girls’ basketball team went undefeated at the St. Louis World’s Fair.
- Native American athletes won gold medals in the Olympics in the 20th century, including decathlon champion Jim Thorpe and 10,000-meter champion Billy Mills.
- Contemporary tribal communities value athletic competition, but most Native games are not officially sanctioned by any state athletic associations.
- Montana tribal communities have enjoyed unparalleled success in basketball and running.
- Most traditional Native American games were viewed holistically by the community; success was as dependent upon the spiritual qualities of individuals as on their physical prowess.
- Games like the Stick Game or Hand Game are viewed as games of intuitive ability, not as “guessing games.”
- Most traditional field games required a substantial amount of running, savvy teamwork, throwing, and catching.
- Traditional games are still played and celebrated by contemporary tribes along the Lewis and Clark Trail and elsewhere.
- Some traditional Native American games, like lacrosse, are played by people throughout the nation.
- Knowledge of cultural, environmental, political, social, and economic factors affects how we make sense of a place.
- Northern Plains people’s use of sign language relates to their unique landscape, which is highly visible and widely shared by over a dozen different tribes and language groups.
Essential Questions: Aligned with Trail/Tribal Themes
- What games did tribes along the L & C Trail play?
- How did tribal communities perceive the importance and significance of games and competition?
- Are traditional games still played today along the L & C Trail?
- What games have tribal communities embraced in contemporary society?
- How did tribal games reflect and embody the tribal communities?
- Have tribal communities had success in athletic competition in the 20th and 21st century?
- How did tribal people prepare for games and competition?
- What were the key aspects of ancient life on the Northern Plains that allowed tribal people to thrive throughout the year?
- How did the unique qualities of the Northern Plains influence the tribal cultures of history?
- What are the advantages of being able to play multiple games, beyond just being able to engage with someone from a different cultural background?
- What does retaining traditional games mean for Native peoples living today?
- What does it mean for all of us if Native American games are lost?
Honoring Tribal Legacies Along the Lewis and Clark Trail
Essential Questions for Further Research and Discussion
Traces of the Past Observed Today – What life was like before Lewis & Clark?
- How does the concept of “since time immemorial” relate to the world in the past, present, and future?
- What are the creation stories of this place? How are these stories pertinent to understanding the world today?
- What are the ancestral sites and scope of territory of American Indian tribes who have inhabited this place?
- How have relationships between people and the natural and built environment of this place been viewed?
- How have American Indian peoples traditionally:
named, described and interpreted this place?
interacted with and contributed to the natural environment of this place?
built relationships and communicated with each other in this place?
created and organized a built environment in this place?
transported themselves and goods through this place?
- Why did other groups of people come to this place?
Encountering Indigenous Peoples – What happened during the Lewis & Clark journey?
- What political, economic, social, environmental, and cultural conditions led to Lewis and Clark visiting this place?
- How did members of the Lewis and Clark expedition describe and interpret this place?
- How have the perspectives of the Lewis and Clark expedition been passed on through time?
- How did American Indian peoples describe encounters with members of the Lewis and Clark expedition?
- How did tribal peoples contribute to the Lewis and Clark expedition in this place?
- How have tribal perspectives of the Lewis and Clark expedition been passed on through time?
- Why did various groups of people come to this place?
- What political changes have occurred in this place?
- What changes in lifeways, social interaction, and communication among peoples have occurred in this place?
- What changes in the traditional cultures and languages have occurred in this place?
- What economic changes have occurred in this place?
- How has the health and wellbeing of tribal peoples been affected?
- Why was the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail established?
- How did the Bicentennial commemoration affect relationships between tribes and other stakeholder groups?
- What lessons can be learned from the Bicentennial commemoration?
- What purposes are served by the Trail today to honor tribal legacies?
- How is understanding of the Trail enhanced through contemporary tribal cultures, languages, cultural landscapes, place names, sacred sites, and communities?
- What cultural resources are in danger of being lost?
- What conditions and trends pose threats to cultural resources?
- What cultural attributes of this place should be protected and restored?
- What does the future hold for this place?
- How might tribal cultures, languages, cultural landscapes, place names, sacred sites, and communities of this place be preserved and sustained?
- How might the natural environment of this place be preserved and sustained?
- How can tribal peoples draw upon the perspectives of their ancestors to forge their future?
- How can tribal peoples and other stakeholder groups work together to forge their future?