There are many books related to Native Americans of the Great Plains and Canadian Prairies that can help students better visualize and understand the people, their history, and their present. Some short picture books can be used as a whole class read-alouds, where other longer books can be used as longer novel studies. Using Storyboard That, students can create a plot summary of the book using visuals and descriptions.
The example used for this activity is from Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist by Q. L. Pearce and Gina Capaldi. It is a beautifully illustrated biography about Zitkala-Sa, Red Bird, also known by her English name, Gertrude Simmons (1876–1938). She was a famous writer, editor, translator, musician, educator and political activist. This book is appropriate for ages 6-10.
Here are some examples of literature that relate to the Indigenous People of the Great Plains:
Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child, translated by Gordon Jourdain, illustrated by Jonathan Thunder is a bilingual Ojibwe/English picture book depicting the traditional dances, songs, and spiritual meanings present at a powwow.
Buffalo Bird Girl by S. D. Nelson is recommended for ages 6-10 and is a beautifully illustrated biography of a Hidatsa woman named Buffalo Bird Woman who was born around 1839.
The Flight of Red Bird: The Life of Zitkala-Sa by Doreen Rappaport is appropriate for ages 10 and up.
Who was Maria Tallchief? by Catherine Gourley is an entertaining biography about Maria Tallchief from the Osage nation who became the first Native American to become a major prima ballerina. It is recommended for ages 8-12.
Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina is a picture book biography recommended for ages 4 to 9.
Stolen Words by Melanie Florence, is a poignant picture book about a little girl who is eager to learn more about her Cree heritage from her grandfather, only to discover that when he was sent to a residential school as a child, he was forced to forget his language. While exposing the cruelty of the residential school system, it also presents a hope that current and future generations will work together to preserve their language and culture.
Makoons by Louise Eldrich is part of the celebrated Birchbark House series and is about an Ojibwe boy and his family in the Great Plains in the 1860s.
Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender, Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story, and Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender are all books by S.D. Nelson who is an award-winning author and illustrator and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas.
Grandpa's Girls is a book by Nicola I. Campbell who is Interior Salish on her mother’s side and Métis from Saskatchewan on her father’s side.
A Boy Called Slow is the true story of the life of Sitting Bull by award-winning author Joseph Bruchac who is of Abenaki heritage.
The Brave by James Bird, a Native American author from the Ojibwe tribe, is a novel appropriate for upper elementary and middle school about a boy having a difficult time in school who goes to live with his mother, who is Ojibwe.
Grade Level 4-5
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Objective: Summarize the story in a 3-6 cell storyboard describing the main events in the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
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