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A Life in Beads: The Stories a Plains Dress Can Tell

A Life in Beads: The Stories a Plains Dress Can Tell is a teaching poster for grades 4–6. Students will explore the traditional art of dressmaking and dress decoration among Native American women from the Great Plains region. Through the stories and art of contemporary women who continue these traditions, students will learn about materials used in the past and today, as well as the cultural values and meanings behind dress decoration. The poster includes maps and a variety of historical and contemporary images.

Resource Information

grades   4 5 6
Assiniboine, Nakota, Sioux, Yankton, Yanktonais
English Language Arts, Social Studies
Great Basin, North America, Plains, Plateau
beads, beadwork, dresses, identity, porcupine quills, quillwork, Native art, women
Essential Understandings More Close

1: American Indian Cultures
Culture is a result of human socialization. People acquire knowledge and values by interacting with other people through common language, place, and community. In the Americas, there is vast cultural diversity among more than 2,000 tribal groups. Tribes have unique cultures and ways of life that span history from time immemorial to the present day.

2: Time, Continuity, and Change
Indigenous people of the Americas shaped life in the Western Hemisphere for millennia. After contact, American Indians and the events involving them greatly influenced the histories of the European colonies and the modern nations of North, Central, and South America. Today, this influence continues to play significant roles in many aspects of political, legal, cultural, environmental, and economic issues. To understand the history and cultures of the Americas requires understanding American Indian history from Indian perspectives.

3: People, Places, and Environments
For thousands of years, indigenous people have studied, managed, honored, and thrived in their homelands. These foundations continue to influence American Indian relationships and interactions with the land today.

4: Individual Development and Identity
American Indian individual development and identity is tied to culture and the forces that have influenced and changed culture over time. Unique social structures, such as clan systems, rites of passage, and protocols for nurturing and developing individual roles in tribal society, characterize each American Indian culture. American Indian cultures have always been dynamic and adaptive in response to interactions with others.


Academic Standards More Close

Common Core State Standards

Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (High School)–National Council for the Social Studies

I. Culture.
Knowledge–"Culture" refers to the behaviors, beliefs, values, traditions, institutions, and ways of living together of a group of people.

II. Time, Continuity, and Change.
Knowledge–That we can learn our personal past and the past of communities, nations, and the world by means of stories, biographies, interviews, and original sources such as documents, letters, photographs, and artifacts.

III. People, Places, and Environments.
Processes–Gather and interpret information from various representations of Earth, such as maps, globes, geospatial technologies and other geographic tools to inform the study of people, places and environments, both past and present.

IV. Individual Development and Identity
Processes–Explore factors that contribute to personal identity, such as physical attributes, gender, race, and culture.

College, Career, & Civic Life–C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards

Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their environmental characteristics.

Explain how culture influences the way people modify and adapt to their environments.