Students watch a video on trade between the Corps of Discovery and American Indians. Students create their own fur hat using inspiration from Lewis and Clark’s fur trading with the American Indians. Students also practice negotiating with each other to trade their hats.
This lesson is part of "Great States: North Dakota | Unit 4: Early Exploration" - an examination of the factors that drew people to explore North Dakota and how these early visitors impacted American Indians.
4.2.7: Explain the significance of fur trading in North Dakota (e.g., Hudson Bay, Charbonneau, American Fur Company, LaVerendrye)
4.2.8: Explain the significance of the Lewis and Clark expeditions (e.g., Corps of Discovery, Sacagawea) in North Dakota history
- Video: Lewis and Clark's North Dakota: Lewis, Clark and the Native People
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or other type of screen to project videos to the class
- Image: Fashion plate [Depicting men in a variety of smart costumes, circa 1864. Source: Victoria & Albert Museum.]
- Hat materials; felt, fake fur, yarn
- Class set of Lewis and Clark’s Fur Trade handout (optional)
Tell students that they will watch a video about fur trade between Lewis and Clark and American Indians. Explain that fur was a main commodity in the early 1800s, and they allowed people to obtain goods for their way of life.
Tell students to pay attention to the fur hats. They will also be making their own fur hats. They can make their hat to represent what Lewis and Clark saw in the fur trade or a design of their own. Provide students with felt, fake fur, yarn or other materials for hat making. Provide glue for securing the hat materials.
Play the video, Lewis and Clark's North Dakota: Lewis, Clark and the Native People [7:27] to give students ideas for their hats. Point out the hats as they are shown in the video scenes. [0:15, right & left side] [1:42, montage of several hats] [5:30, at the top]. Note: The re-enactors in the video are wearing different types of hats, not just fur hats. If you need to shorten the lesson or have already spent other lessons focusing on Lewis & Clark, this video could be shown up until 2:03 to give students fur hat ideas.
Explain that furs traded in the 1800s were often used for hats and clothing. The furs were shipped to Europe to make fashionable hats for the upper classes. Beaver furs were felted and used for top hats. Show students the image, Fashion Plate.
[ Credit: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London]
Explain that the fashion plate is from 1864 and belongs to the V&A Museum’s Prints & Drawing Study Room. It shows a series of men and women in the popular styles of the time. Note that about half of the men were wearing beaver felt top hats. Beaver felts were in high demand because they were naturally waterproof and had a glossy sheen. These styles were seen as status symbols, and demand from Europe for furs was high in the early and mid-1800s.
Allow 15 minutes for students to complete their hats.
If time allows, have students negotiate with each other to trade their hats.
Alternative: If hat-making supplies are unavailable, provide students with the Lewis and Clark’s Fur Trade handout. Instead of making hats, students can draw a hat that they would like to sell.