Students watch a video about the history of government in Minnesota. Students explore and learn the meaning and symbolism behind the state seal. Students design a seal to represent American Indian values.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Minnesota | Unit 4: Treaties and Statehood" which focuses on how the enormous economic, political, and technological changes of the 19th century impacted the creation of the state of Minnesota.
126.96.36.199.1: Explain the relationship among the three branches of government: making laws by the legislative branch, implementing and enforcing laws by the executive branch, and interpreting laws by the judicial branch.
188.8.131.52.2: Identify the major Minnesota political figures, ideas and industries that have shaped or continue to shape Minnesota and the United States today. (The United States in a New Global Age: 1980–present)
184.108.40.206.1: Explain the concept of sovereignty and how treaty rights are exercised by the Anishinaabe and Dakota today. For example: Organization of tribal government, gaming rights, hunting and fishing rights
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to project videos to the class
- Image: Minnesota State Seal
- Video: Great States | Minnesota Government [2:39]
- Notebooks or loose-leaf paper
- Construction paper or blank paper
- Coloring tools (pencils, markers, or crayons)
- Project an image of the Minnesota state seal and ask students to make educated guesses about the meaning of each symbol on the seal. Point out that a state’s seal shows a state’s history and cultural origins. Ask if they know the literal meaning of “L’etoile du Nord,” and why this is a suitable motto for Minnesota.
[Source: Wikimedia Commons: Minnesota State Seal]
- Here are some of the elements and their meanings:
- a) L’etoile du Nord – “the star of the North” (basis for state’s nickname “The North Star State”)
- b) Sun – the flat plains covering much of the state
- c) American Indian on horseback – great American Indian heritage
- d) Mississippi River and St. Anthony’s Falls – importance of resources for trade and commerce
- e) Three pine trees – state tree, as well as three pine regions in state (St. Croix, Mississippi, and Lake Superior)
- f) Farmer, cultivated land, and plow – agriculture
- g) Tree stump – timber industry
- h) Spear, axe, rifle, horse, rifle – hunting and labor
- Play the video, Great States | Minnesota Government [2:39]. Tell the students they will be designing a seal for the Dakota nation, so they should take notes on the experience of the Dakotas in Minnesota’s history, as well as what values and traditions the Dakota hold important.
- Instruct students to create a seal that would be appropriate for the tribal government of the Dakotas. The seal should include at least three images and a motto that indicates an understanding of the history and current government of the Dakota nation.