Tatanka (Buffalo) Level

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Curriculum Unit Plan
Theme: Tatanka (Buffalo)
Level: PreK - Adult

Date: Fall 2010

Developed by the members of: LMEA 733 Owayawa Wicoun

Overview and Introduction to the Unit

The buffalo provided a way of life for the Lakota people from food, to shelter, to spirituality. It is imperative that Lakota youth have knowledge of this relationship that was established at the time of creation, as well as pass this knowledge down throughout their lifetime.

Desired Results


  • Students will understand the relationship of the buffalo nation to the Lakota people. That the Lakota depended on them for food, shelter, and spirituality.

  • Students will understand that the relationship between the buffalo nation and Lakota people still exists today.

Essential Questions:
  • Why are the buffalo significant to the Lakota people?

  • Why are buffalo wakan (sacred)?

  • In what ways did the Lakota use the buffalo in the past? In what ways do they use them in present times?

  • What are the traditional stories that speak to the significance of the buffalo to the Lakota people?

Students will know

  • The Buffalo Nation emerged from Wind Cave.

  • White Buffalo Calf Woman brought the chanunpa (pipe) to the Lakota.

  • The practical uses of the buffalo.

  • Oral tradition was a way of sharing cultural knowledge from one generation to the next and must be continued.

Students will be able to

  • Explain how the buffalo fed, clothed and sheltered the Oyate.

  • Retell the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman.

  • Tell a revealing story of a buffalo hunt.

  • Label the different parts of a buffalo and tell what each was used for.

  • Tell why the Lakota women were responsible for the wopata (butchering) of the buffalo.

  • Participate in a buffalo hunt and in the butchering process.

  • Analyze how near extinction of the buffalo affected the Lakota lifestyle.

  • Explain the nutritional value of buffalo meat.

Assessment Evidence

Performance Tasks:

Community/Parent Night: Students will present their choice of final projects (show-and-tell) during a sharing of a traditional meal including buffalo soup, timpsilla, fry bread and wojape.

High School

Goal: Students will learn to cook a traditional meal by using the stomach of a Buffalo.

Role(s): Some students will gather herbs, some will heat the rocks, and others will prep food for cooking. Some students will gather firewood/materials for cooking and heat up cook pot/water.

Audience: Students and parents and families.

Situations: The challenge involves following oral directions given by an elder on how to cook the meal out of the stomach (Taniga).

Product or Performance: To share a traditional meal with the community.

Standards for Success: Acknowledgement by the community through observation and oral feedback.
Middle School

Goals: To preparation and serve a traditional meal to the family and community members. To explain the preparation process from hunting to butchering to cooking and serving the food.

Role(s): Gender roles will be illustrated and discussed (traditionally and contemporarily). Hunters, Butchers, Cooks, Servers, Each individual will act out and verbalize the role that they are playing.

Audience: Community members, families and other students involved.

Situation: Youth of the community trying to fulfill the cultural aspects of ‘feeding the people’. Actually starting and completing an entire traditional feed using proper techniques of preparation (not burning, having enough, planning and acquiring the basic food items). An obstacle or challenge to overcome will be preparing enough food for the group and addressing the issues of feeding that many people.

Product or Performance: Traditional foods will be created and consumed by the students, community and family members. This activity will also be illustrated by food charts, posters, and students relating their traditional function to the community and how they are fulfilling that role today.

Standards for Success: Measurement of the performance is the palatability of the meal consumed and the survey that will quantify the community and family response (satisfaction and understanding).

Invite tradition members to come and relate their knowledge of food, history tradition.

Other Evidence:

Research on the internet two other oral creation stories from another culture and write a 4-6-paragraph report on findings.

Create a ‘find the word’ puzzle using words from either culture report.
Write a comparison essay of Lakota and another culture story.
Select a creation story for a read-aloud to groups of student with reading difficulties.
Community members and family members will complete a survey to indicate their participation and satisfaction with the entire process.
Oral Tradition: Retell a buffalo creation story or tell a revealing story of a buffalo hunt.

Learning Experiences and Instruction

WHERETO Learning Activities:
How will we help students know where they are headed and why?

  • K. W. L. Chart (use of Prior Knowledge)

How do we hook students through engaging and thought-provoking experiences?

  • Elder Speaker explains importance of Buffalo to the Lakota.

  • Video: American Buffalo—Spirit of the Buffalo Nation

What events will students experience? What learning activities will help students to explore the big ideas and essential questions? What instruction will equip students for the final performance?

  • Visit the Vore Buffalo Jump west of Spearfish, SD

  • Invite a Buffalo Ranger or Park Ranger from Custer State Park to speak of the history, significance of the buffalo.

  • Field Trip to Buffalo Ranch in Pine Ridge

  • Student taking Video recording, taking pictures when they visit buffalo ranch.

  • Student can do creative writing or journaling

  • An all day research on Buffalo and Test the research

  • Take a trip to a Buffalo Jump outside of Spearfish, SD

  • Buffalo Kill ( Elder speaker of Buffalo Kill to explain the measures that are taken in the process; Students do a project by showcasing the event, i.e. video, art, mural drawing.

  • Cooking (Make and share a traditional meal including drying the meat and cooking with the stomach. Using parts: hoofs, bones, hide and other parts as tools, utensils, clothing, medicine, food, etc.)

  • Taste testing: different edible parts of buffalo

  • In Math explore why land is important and learn about ratio/acres to Buffalo on pasture range.

How will students rehearse, revise, and reflect on their learning based on feedback and self-assessment?

  • Students will maintain reflective journals.

  • Students will receive feedback from elders as they participate in learning activities.

  • Project checklists and/or rubrics will be used to guide written, oral and multimedia presentations.

How will students exhibit their understanding through performances and products?

  • Students will practice Lakota protocol in observing or participating in a buffalo hunt and while participating in the butchering, meal preparation, and meal sharing process.

  • Students will engage in conversations with elders to address the essential questions of the unit.

  • Students will retell stories of the buffalo to their classmates, family and community members, and/or to other classes.

  • Students will prepare and present projects that demonstrate their learning.

How will work be tailored to meet individual student needs, interests and learning styles?

  • The activities of the unit allow for ample individual modeling and rehearsal prior to performance.

  • The learning activities and student performances reflect multiple intelligences.

  • The unit design is suited for differentiated instruction based on individual as well as group needs.

How will the instruction and learning activities be organized for maximal engagement and effectiveness?

  • See the sample instructional sequence below

Sequence of Instructional Lessons and Learning Experiences: (Daily lessons will need to be planned in accordance with the grade level and unique needs of the class to which the unit will be presented. The following is a suggested sequence of instruction.)

  1. Significance of the Buffalo to the Lakota People
  2. Introduce the essential questions and discuss the culminating unit performance tasks.

  3. Note key vocabulary and nomenclature

  4. Our Story.

  5. Introduce Activities

  • White Buffalo Calf Woman

  • Wind Cave Pte Oyate Origin

  • The Great Race Story

  • Family stories of Buffalo Nation (from students relatives)

  • Field trip to Wind Cave

  • Winter Count on a Buffalo Hide.

  • Research how buffalo were used (historically and contemporary)

  • Teach them the Buffalo Dance

  • Field trip a Buffalo Hunt

  • Show how to butcher a buffalo

  • Engage in food preparation of animal and their body parts.

  • Research the near extinction of the buffalo and what the effects were on Lakota people (social, physically, emotionally, politically). Further research on contemporary numbers and the social physical emotional and political meanings today.

  • Compare nutritional value of buffalo meat and other types of red meat.

  • Reflective writing “If I Were A Buffalo”, or poetry that reflects that topic.

  • Persuasive essay on buffalo preservation.

  • Graphing timeline of buffalo populations ebb and flow

  • Scatter plots of populations and the variance from state to state (geography)

  • Computer Applications: brochure that compares food values of modern foods that compare contrast the values of different meats.

  • Tactile opportunities with actual buffalo parts: robes, brain tan activity.

  • Archery activities using buffalo targets.

  • Technology: Video of stories told, script a topic, story, re-enactment of a story (from family history or tribal history). YouTube/ Teacher Tube a buffalo field trip:

  • Relate a buffalo hunt story on video.
  • Make a drum (drum sticks), teach songs

  • Teach cooking techniques using stomach as a water bag/ boiling pot

  • How to get a buffalo today (application, sources, process to butcher (process plant)

  • Gender Roles in regards to responsibility for Lakota interaction with buffalo (food, ceremony, clothing, housing).

  • Science: Zoological behaviors of buffalo in pasture (observation/documentation)

  • Science: Physiology of buffalo (circulatory, digestive, endocrine, reproductive, etc.)

  • Ceremonial uses of the buffalo/ past and present (significance).

What do you do with the animal parts today?


Pte Oyate

White Buffalo Calf Woman




Wind Cave












Children’s Books

Buffalo Woman, Retold and Illustrated by Paul Goble (1984)

Tatanka and the Lakota People, Retold and Illustrated by Donald F. Montileaux (2006)

The Buffalo Jump, Written by Peter Roop and Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth (1996)

The Legend Of the White Buffalo Woman, Retold and Illustrated by Paul Goble (1998)

There Still Are Buffalo, Written by Ann Nolan Clark and Illustrated by Stephen Tongier (1992)

Where the Buffaloes Begin, Written by Olaf Baker and Illustrated by Stephen Gammell (1981)
Teacher’s Guides

Keepers of the Animals (Caduto & Bruchac, 1991)

Ehanni Ohunkakan: A Curriculum Resource Unit (One Feather, 1974) - Available at OLC Reference Library

Buffalo and the Plains Indians, South Dakota State Historical Society Education Kit

Website: http://history.sd.gov/museum/education/edkits.aspx

Address: South Dakota State Historical Society, 900 Governor’s Drive, Pierre, SD 57501

Phone: 605-773-6011

Sample Lesson Plan

Wind Cave and the Pte People
Description: Students will learn the importance and practice of traditional oral storytelling. Students will research and complete a variety of online and offline activities using the information they attain from their research. Students will compare the value of oral storytelling among other cultures.

Introduction: A Lakota elder will share two oral storytellings of the Lakota that involve Iktomi. And how these stories apply to the present and the importance of keeping oral tradition in practice. Elder will then tell the story of Wind Cave and the Pte People. A question/answer session will follow after stories.


1. Students will learn the value of oral storytelling.

2. Students will learn how to utilize the internet to research oral tradition of other cultures.

3. Students will be able to work cooperatively in group setting.

4. Students will learn practice of oral storytelling.

Learning Objectives:

1. Students will be able to research cultural information on oral storytelling.

2. Students will be able to write an informative report describing the information they collected.

3. Students will create chart/graphic organizer to relay the data found.

4. Students will be able to write a comparative essay comparing Lakota and another culture’s traditional

oral story.

5. Students will be able to create a story from a character they are familiar with from their own culture.

6. Students will create and perform a 15-20 play relaying a traditional story

Task 1 - Pictograph

Task 2 - Story Presentation

Task 3 - Comparative/Informative Essays

Task 4 - Diorama

Task 5 - Internet Research


Graph paper Shoeboxes

Colored Poster Boards Colored Pencils

Markers Clay

Glue Imitation Buffalo Hair

Magazines Sinew

Audio/Video Cassettes Computers


Accelerated Activities:
1. Research on the internet two other oral creation stories from another culture and write a 4-6 sentence

paragraph report on findings.

2. Create a ‘find the word’ puzzle using words from either culture report.

3. Write a comparison essay of Lakota and another culture story.

4. Select a creation story for a read-aloud to groups of student with reading difficulties.


1. Utilize a cassette recording of oral storytelling.

2. Create a pictograph detailing a story of choice.

3. Choice of painting, creating a collage, or orally retelling a story.

4. Watch video of selected videos on cultural stories.


1. Criteria for evaluation will be determined by student’s needs and abilities.

2. Utilizing Bloom’s Taxonomy to assess level of understanding

3. Level of contribution to group work

4. Portfolio content of lesson within the unit portfolio

Curriculum Designers

A Note from the Instructor and Curriculum Developers: One of the greatest challenges facing Native American communities today is providing educational opportunities that will prepare Indian children to be successful in life both on and off the reservation. From this challenge emerges two dominant issues: the implementation of research-based educational practices to improve the academic achievement and the implementation of culturally based educational programs that recognize and honor traditional languages and culture. This integrated thematic curriculum is designed to connect language, culture and content in meaningful ways. It is our hope that by giving students a sound and well-grounded education in their culture and in their heritage along with academics they will gain needed pride, self-esteem and skills to succeed in their tribal surroundings and in dominant culture.

LMEA 733 Owayawa Wicoun Class Members: Sonia Bear Runner, Evaleen Brave Heart, Stephanie Brown Bull, Wilbert Buckman, Jr., Michael Carlow Jr., Ida Fast Wolf, Melissa Iron Cloud, Del Rae LaRoche, Darrin Merrival Lynda One Feather, Pte Poor Bear, Chanda Rendon-Spotted Eagle, Daniel G. Snethen, Carol Johnson Vaughn, Marge White Bear Claws
LMEA 733 Owayawa Wicoun Instructor: Shannon Amiotte, Ed.D.

Design Model Adapted from: Understanding by Design Professional Development Workbook, McTighe and Wiggins (2004)

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