Buffalo Hunt Developed by Carol Adams and Carmen Espinoza for Arlee Elementary School Text Title, Author and Citation

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1Buffalo Hunt

Developed by Carol Adams and Carmen Espinoza for Arlee Elementary School
Text Title, Author and Citation

Freedman, Russell. Buffalo Hunt. New York: Scholastic, 1988.

Suggested Grade Level(s)

Grades 4-8

About the Author

“Russell Freedman is a nonfiction writer who prefers to be called a "factual author." He says that's because lots of people think "nonfiction" is less interesting and less important than fiction. Freedman tries to stamp out that myth with every book he writes.

“Freedman chooses only topics that he is interested in and wants to learn more about. He likes to write about people in history who have character traits that stand out and make them memorable. For example, he has said he chose to write about Eleanor Roosevelt because of her big-heartedness, and Crazy Horse because of his courage and integrity. Freedman has also written more than 20 books about animal behavior, a topic that's fascinated him since he was a kid.”

“Meet Russell Freedman.” 2002. Houghton Mifflin Reading. 30 Dec. 2006 < http://www.eduplace.com/kids/tnc/mtai/freedman.html>.


For reviews of Freedman’s work, please check the following site:

“Buffalo Hunt.” Amazon.com. 30 Dec. 2006 < http://www.amazon.com/Buffalo-Hunt-Russell-Freedman/dp/0590464264>.

Text Summary

Freedman presents descriptions of the many ways that buffalo hunts were made by Indians and later by the whites whose ferocious, firearm slaughter of the buffalo brought the species to near extinction.

Tribe(s) Represented in Text

Great Plains Indians, Sioux, Blackfoot, Pawnee of Kansas and Nebraska, Northern Cheyenne, Mandan, Crow. Illustrations/pictures: Comanche, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Mandan, Crow, Sioux

Setting of Text

Great Plains Indian hunting grounds

Genre of Text


Time Required

6 days
Supplies and Materials

(optional) quill work, map, buffalo hide, buffalo skull, hunting treaties, pictures of buffalo and buffalo hunts, Idea Book (OPI Website print out Idea book for creating lessons and units about American Indians: find at http://www.opi.mt.gov/PDF/IndianEd/Resources/IdeaBook.pdf)
Implementation Level, Essential Understandings and MT Content Standards

Banks - O’meter

Essential Understandings – Big Ideas

Montana Content Standards


Social Action


1-Diversity between tribal groups is great.

5-History represents subjective experience & perspective.


1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.5, 2.6, 4.2, 4.5, 4.7, 5.1, 5.2,

Social Studies

1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.6, 3.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 4.7



2-Diversity between individuals is great.

6-Federal Indian policies shifted through 7 major periods.




3-Oral histories are valid & predate European contact.


7-Tribes reserved a portion of their land-base through treaties.







4-Ideologies, traditions, beliefs, & spirituality persist


8-Three forms of sovereignty exist - federal, state, & tribal.

Instructional Outcomes – Learning Targets
Content Area Standards

Essential Understandings
Essential Understanding 1: There is great diversity among the 12 tribal Nations of Montana in their languages, cultures, histories and governments. Each Nation has a distinct and unique cultural heritage that contributes to modern Montana.
Essential Understanding 3: The ideologies of Native traditional beliefs and spirituality persist into modern day life as tribal cultures, traditions and languages are still practiced by many American Indian people and are incorporated into how tribes govern and manage their affairs.
Additionally, each tribe has its own oral history beginning with their origins that are as valid as written histories. These histories pre-date the “discovery” of North America.
Essential Understanding 4: Reservations are lands that have been reserved by the tribes for their own use through treaties and was not “given” to them. The principle that land should be acquired from the Indians only through their consent with treaties involved three assumptions:

  1. That both parties to treaties were sovereign powers.

  2. That Indian tribes had some form of transferable title to the land.

  3. That acquisition of Indian lands was solely a government matter not to be left to individual colonists.

Essential Understanding 8: Under the American legal system, Indian tribes have sovereign powers separate and independent from the federal and state governments. However, the extent and breadth of tribal sovereignty is not the same for each tribe.

Social Studies

Students will

1.2 assess the quality of information (e.g., primary or secondary sources, point of view and embedded values of the author).
2.1 describe the purpose of government and how the powers of government are acquired, maintained and used.

2.2 identify and describe basic features of the political system in the United States and identify representative leaders from various levels (e.g., local, state, tribal, federal, branches of government).

2.3 identify the significance of tribal sovereignty and Montana tribal governments’ relationship to local, state and federal governments.

2.4 analyze and explain governmental mechanisms used to meet the needs of citizens, manage conflict, and establish order and security.

2.6 explain conditions, actions and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among groups and nations (e.g., discrimination, peer interaction, trade agreements).

3.3 analyze diverse land use and explain the historical and contemporary effects of this use on the environment, with an emphasis on Montana.

3.4 explain how movement patterns throughout the word (e.g., people, ideas, diseases, products, food) lead to interdependence and/or conflict.

4.1 interpret the past using a variety of sources (e.g., biographies, documents, diaries, eyewitnesses, interview, internet, primary source material) and evaluate the credibility of sources used).

4.2 describe how history can be organized and analyzed using various criteria to group people and events (e.g., chronology, geography, cause and effect, change, conflict, issues).

4.3 use historical facts and concepts and apply methods of inquiry (e.g., primary documents, interview, comparative accounts, research) to make informed decisions as responsible citizens.

4.5 identify major scientific discoveries and technological innovations and describe their social and economic effects on society.

4.7 summarize major issues affecting the history, culture, tribal sovereignty, and current status of the American Indian tribes in Montana and the United States.

Students will

3.4 investigate and explain the interdependent nature of biological systems in the environment and how they are affected by human interaction.

Skill Sets


Students will

1.1 make predictions and clearly describe, with details, meaningful connections between new material and previous information/experiences.

1.3 interpret and provide oral, written, and/or artistic responses to ideas and feelings generated by the reading material and compare responses with peers.

1.4 demonstrate understanding of main ideas and select important supporting facts and details.

1.5 provide accurate, detailed summaries using key elements of appropriate reading material.

2.1 decode unknown words combining the elements of phonics, grammatical structures, analysis of word parts, and context to understand reading material.

2.2 demonstrate understanding of and analyze literary elements (e.g., plot, character, setting, point of view, conflict).

2.5 adjust fluency, rate, and style of reading to the content and purpose of the material.

2.6 develop vocabulary through the use of context clues, analysis of word parts, auditory clues, and reference sources, and construct general and specialized vocabularies related to specific academic areas, cultures, and technology.

4.2 read to organize and understand information and to use material to investigate a topic (e.g., reference material, manuals, public documents, newspapers, magazines and electronic information).

4.5 identify recurring themes, perspectives, cultures, and issues by reading (e.g., identity, conflict, change).

4.7 identify, locate, read, and interpret information from a variety of documents and sources (e.g., graphs, tables, policy statements, television, Internet).
5.1 compare and contrast information and textual elements in print and non-print materials.

5.2 make connections, explain relationships among a variety of sources, and integrate similar information.

Learning Experiences – Text-Based Inquiry

Preview book and discuss or study buffalo extinction.


See suggested day-by-day plan.

Suggested Day-by-Day Plan

Day 1:

1. Read about the author, Russell Freedman.

2. Read about the illustrator on page 51-52. Do a picture slide show to introduce other pictures from this illustrator. (http://www.artcyclopedia.com/subjects/the_American_West.html)

3. Do a KWL chart to assess what students already know about the connection between Native Americans and buffalo.

Day 2: Chapter 1 - A Gift from the Great Spirit

1. Choose one of the buffalo legends, retell it, and respond to it.

2. What were the responsibilities of men and women of the Plains Indians? Compare and contrast this life style with today’s men and women. (Venn diagram)

3. Suppose the buffalo did become extinct. Describe a buffalo in detail to create a visual picture for someone who will never see one.

Day 3: Chapter 2 - Buffalo Magic

1. When was hunting season and why?

2. What was the job of a Sioux shaman?

3. How was the buffalo skull used? What did the author use as a comparison to medicine arrows and the buffalo hat?

4. On page 20 the author writes, the most treasured religious objects were kept in front of the great medicine or mystery lodge. What could these objects be and what could be their significance?

5. Today what would some people consider to be the most treasured religious object? What would be comparable to the great medicine or mystery lodge today?

6. Why would the rules of the hunt have to be so strict? If these rules were broken, what would happen to the offender?

7. Why did the Indian hunters continue to use bow and arrows even after firearms were introduced by the white man?

8. Who were the marshals?

Day 4: Chapter 3 - The Hunt

1. What were the two uses of tipi poles?

2. In which direction was the tipi door set up to face? What was the reason for this?

3. Native Americans used a variety of strategies to locate buffalo herds. Explain what was unique about the Comanche and the Cheyenne in locating the buffalo herds?

4. How did the Native Americans kill large numbers of buffalo? Choose one method you find most interesting and effective and describe it in detail.

Day 5: Chapter 4 - From the Brains to the Tail (For uses of a buffalo, go to the idea book at http://www.opi.mt.gov/PDF/IndianEd/Resources/IdeaBook.pdf and go to pages 68-69.)

1. Which buffalo was chosen to be a religious offering?

2. How did the people determine to whom the buffalo belonged?

3. How did they distribute the meat and hides?

4. What parts of the buffalo did the people eat?

5. What is pemmican?

6. Explain the tanning process. How long did it take?

7. What articles did the people make from the tanned hides?

8. List several items made from the buffalo horns.

9. Tell how a tipi could be set up to be warm and cozy.

Day 6: Chapter 5 -With the Buffalo Gone

1. How many buffalo might be in a large herd?

2. Explain how buffalo almost became extinct.

3. Why did the Native American tribes decide to go on the “warpath” with the white people?


Chapter 1 - communal, migrated, encampment

Chapter 2 - shaman, quiver, sinew, breechcloth, band

Chapter 3 - travois, procession, lagged, succession, instincts, habits, flanks (of the herd), floundered, bleating, veer

Chapter 4 - carcass, devoured, pemmican, toboggan, dung, translucent

Chapter 5 - strewn, seared, pemmican, kneading, supple

Chapter 6 - trinkets, delicacy, excursion, rations

Extension Activities


1. Contact a local tribal story teller to tell stories related to the buffalo. If a story teller is not available, find legends in your local library to read aloud or listen to. Keepers of the Animals, The Buffalo Jump

2. View a variety of paintings and pictures involving buffalo; talk about the body shape and features. How did that make the buffalo such a strong and powerful animal?
3. Sketch, paint, make a collage, or some sort of art form dealing with the buffalo.
Chapter 2 - Buffalo Magic

1. Discuss aboriginal rights of Native American hunters. Read about the Lasso Stasso hunting case at the following website: http://www.skc.edu/netbook/14-hunting_and_fishing.htm

Chapter 4 - From the Brains to the Tail

1. Make sun-dried jerky with buffalo if at all possible. If weather does not permit, use oven dryers or fire. Weigh the meat first, then weigh it after it is dried. What percent of the meat weight was lost in the drying process? This process not only preserved the meat but also made travel much lighter.

2. Make pemmican. See Internet information below.

Where one man can survive, two will fare well;

Three and their Families will form a tribe.
A thousand like-Minds form their own Nation,
With Nature as the ruler of their Lives.


Pemmican is the energy snack warriors and hunters carried with them. A thoughtful groom will make pemmican for his wedding party.

How to make 10 pounds of Pemmican using modern methods:

Grind five pounds of dried meat to meal-like consistency
Mix with one pound of raisins and
1/2 pound brown sugar

Stir into four pounds of melted fat

(I prefer blueberries or blackberries over raisins - it was the old way.)

Pemmican cakes were traditionally kept in rawhide bags. Canvas or suede bags work quite well. They also freeze well.

Eat Pemmican cakes raw or fried.

“Pemmican.” 2005. Redhawk’s Lodge. 30 Dec. 2006 .

3. Demonstrate the size of a typical tipi. The diameter was 15 feet. Then think of all of the things they would have and where would you place them in this limited space. What belongings did they have in their tipi?

  • Special marking on the arrows?

  • Describe the tanning process.

  • The tipi measured 15 feet in diameter.

Chapter 5 - With the Buffalo Gone

1. Take a field trip to the National Bison Range. Read Home on the Range-The Story of the National Bison Range by Jon Cates as background information.

2. Discuss the controversy over the control of the National Bison Range.

3. Research boarding schools.

Resources and References

Bruchac, Joseph, and Michael J. Caduto. Keepers of the Animals. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1991.

“Buffalo Hunt.” Amazon.com. 30 Dec. 2006 .
Cates, Jon. Home on the Range-The Story of the National Bison Range. Billings, MT: Falcon Press, 1986.
“George Catlin.” Artcyclopedia 30 Dec. 2006 .
“Hunting and Fishing Rights.” 30 Dec. 2006 .

“Idea Book for Creating Lessons and Units about American Indians.” 2002. Montana Office of Public Instruction. 30 Dec. 2006 .

“Meet Russell Freedman.” 2002. Houghton Mifflin Reading. 30 Dec. 2006 < http://www.eduplace.com/kids/tnc/mtai/freedman.html>.

“Pemmican.” 2005. Redhawk’s Lodge. 30 Dec. 2006 .

Roop, Peter. The Buffalo Jump. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Publishing Co., 1996.

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