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Frontier: Small Groups

Small Groups

Have students research, write, and perform a short play about some part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Puppetry could also be used. Divide the students into small groups and have them choose an area of the Lewis and Clark Expedition that interests them. Choices of what to perform should include the time spent in North Dakota both going to and coming back from the Pacific Ocean.

Have students imagine they are explorers or fur traders. Have each group make a list of all the food, clothing, and other goods it would bring along for use during their trip. It is important they remember to bring only what they can carry. Have them give a reason for each item, and make another list of the things they would obtain from the American Indians or from nature. Present to the class in the form of a report, chart, or other method of delivery as listed previously.

The Métis had strict rules that all people participating in the bison hunt were required to follow. They were:

  1. No bison could be killed on Sunday.
  2. No group of hunters could go ahead of or fall behind the rest of the hunters.
  3. No group of hunters could go after the bison without all the rest of the hunters.
  4. Every group of hunters had to take its turn in guarding the camp against attack.
  5. The first time anybody broke one of these rules, his saddle and bridle were to be cut up.
  6. The second time anybody broke one of these rules, his coat was to be cut up.
  7. The third time anybody broke one of these rules, he was to be whipped.
  8. Anybody who was caught stealing, even if the thing stolen was of no value, was to be brought to the center of the camp where his name was to be called out loudly three times. Each time his name was called out, the word “thief” was to be added to it.

Have students discuss in small groups why they think these rules were necessary. What would happen to the bison hunt if many people disobeyed the rules? Share with the class.

Have students research some of the gestures Sakakawea made to communicate with both those of her own tribe and those from other tribes (e.g., sucking her fingers, throwing the blanket around her brother, painting their cheeks red). Then ask them to get into pairs of two and think of some of the gestures we use today to communicate with one another (e.g., shaking hands, waving, kissing on the cheek, or pointing at certain things like our ears to indicate that we can’t hear). Finally have each group pair up with another group to share their ideas. Each group will then share three of their ideas with the class.

Bartering Activity: Divide students into three communities (i.e., farming community, hunting community, trading post) and assign each student a community. Discuss the meaning of trading, or bartering. Each group will be provided with a product list from those listed below. Students will find clip art, cut out pictures from magazines, or illustrate the product on a card. The card will be attached to a string that can then be worn as a necklace for ease in trading. Each group also needs to create three additional products that the group thinks will be needed to survive the winter at a trading post. Each student will then individually select one item to trade from the product list and/or the additional products. The remaining cards will remain as their community’s supply. After a period of time determined by the classroom teacher, have each student trade one item at a time with another community. Remind the students that they have the right to either accept or reject an offer to trade an item if they feel it is not a fair trade. Have students come back together and, as a group, display and review their products and discuss if they thought they would have enough of the right products to survive the winter.

  • Farming Community (dried beans, dried squash, wild prairie turnip flour, dried corn)
  • Hunting Community (bison meat, bison hides, beaver pelts, horses)
  • Trading Post (copper kettles, beads/buttons, weapons, trade blanket)