Students consider meanings of the word “wealth.” They watch a video that explains the way in which the Cheyenne and Sioux Indians had lived in harmony with nature. They then read a short essay that compares the ways the Sioux and the early settlers interacted with the land. 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: North Dakota | Unit 1: Introduction to North Dakota where students will examine seemingly objective terms and concepts. The materials and activities in this unit will give students a more nuanced understanding of how to set about learning about their state.
4.6.1:Explain how background and history influence people’s actions (e.g., farming methods, hunting methods, economic decisions)
4.6.2: Explain the contributions of various ethnic groups (e.g., Native Americans, immigrants) to the history of North Dakota (e.g., food, traditions, languages, celebrations)
- Notebooks or loose-leaf paper
- Video: Living with the Land
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or other type of screen to show videos to the class
- Class set of Living with the Land Background Essay 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 who have no fixed residence but move from place to place usually seasonally and within a well-defined territory." [Source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.] Tell students they will be watching a two-minute video about the Cheyenne and Sioux Indians. Instruct them to take notes as they watch about why the Cheyenne and 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 Her 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.
Distribute the Living with the Land Background Essay available at the same link as the video under Support Materials. As students read, they should note how early settlers found food, established communities, and obtained needed goods.
Ask the students how American Indians may have defined wealth before Europeans arrived in large numbers from the eastern United States. Then ask students how these 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 settlers from the eastern United States. Having learned about different ways of thinking about goods and resources, would they want to change their definition?