Students consider meanings of the word “wealth” by comparing the perspective of Sioux Indians to those of Western settlers. They watch a video that explains the way in which the Sioux had lived in harmony with nature. They then read a short essay that compares the ways the Sioux and the early settlers obtained food and water. To conclude the lesson, students reflect on how the American Indians, the settlers, and they themselves may all view the concept of wealth differently.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Idaho Unit 1: Introduction to Idaho" which examines seemingly objective terms and concepts. How are “boundaries” established and maintained? Do words like “wealth” and “liberty” mean the same thing to everyone? How does culture influence one’s perspective and experience in the world? The materials and activities in this unit will give students a more nuanced understanding of how to set about learning about their state.
4.SS.3.1.1: Compare how American Indians and early settlers met their basic needs of food, shelter, and water.
Boise District 413.16: Compare how American Indians and early settlers met their basic needs of food, shelter, and water.
- Notebooks or loose-leaf paper
- Video: Living with the Land
- A smart board, projector, or other type of screen to show videos to class
- Class set of Living with the Land Background Essay from handout
- Ask students to write their definition of the word “wealth” in a notebook or on loose-leaf paper. Ask several students to share their definitions aloud with the whole class.
- Define the term nomad (a member of a people having no permanent home, and who travel from place to place to find fresh pasture for their livestock). Tell students they will be watching a two-minute video about the Sioux Indians. Instruct them to take notes as they watch about why the Sioux moved regularly throughout the year and how moving from place to place was important to their way of life.
Play the video, Living with the Land [2:10]
- After showing the video, ask students why historian Michael Many Horses insisted that his ancestors were not nomads. Explain to them that because his ancestors were intentionally following a well thought out route rather than wandering in search of sustenance, they were not nomads. Then, ask students how American Indians may have defined wealth before Western Expansion.
- Distribute the Living with the Land Background Essay available at the same link as the video. As students read, they should note how early settlers found food, established communities, and obtained needed goods. Ask students how the Western settlers defined wealth.
- To conclude the lesson, ask students to reflect on the three definitions of wealth: the one they wrote at the beginning of the lesson, that of the American Indians, and that of the Western settlers. Having learned about different ways of thinking about goods and resources, would they want to change their definition?
- American Indians’ wealth: The ability to live in sustainable harmony with nature; having enough for the community and its livestock; freedom to travel without limitations of state or national boundaries
- Western settlers’ wealth: Controlling land and resources; short-term gains over long-term sustainability; ability to access desired goods