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Lesson Plan Table of Contents

Symbols of Power in Clothing Worn by the Plains Indians

Objectives: Students will be able to:

  • Analyze how different cultures use clothing and visual effects to reflect leadership qualities.
  • Create their own system of personal symbolism by making their own power shirts.
  • Identify and describe intrinsic leadership qualities orally.
  • Examine Plains Indian symbols in past and present Native American societies and discuss their importance.

Standards: English Language Arts, Visual Arts.

Skills Addressed: Linguistic, Spatial, Intrapersonal.

Interdisciplinary Connections: English/Language Arts, Art, Social Studies.

Length: Two fifty-minute class periods.

Materials: Paper and colored pencils/markers/paints -or- white shirt, fabric paint, dyes, string, buttons, scissors, (and anything else you can think of to decorate a T-shirt).

Products: Student-designed T-shirt (paper or fabric), 1 to 3 journal entries.

Content Introduction: Power shirts, often made of tanned animal hides and adorned with objects such as fur, beads, and locks of hair, were highly important in the culture of many plains tribes, including the Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow, Arapaho, Comanche, Kiowa, Pawnee, Omaha, Mandan, Hidatsa, Gros Ventre, Blackfeet, Cree, Ojibwe, Arikara, Lakota, Dakota and others. These shirts, which were associated very closely with the identity of their wearer, present various symbols representing success in war, spirituality, special abilities, and outstanding achievements.

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Lesson Plan Table of Contents

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