PATHS ACROSS THE PLAINS: Traditional Footwear from the Great Plains
The Great Plains of North America stretch from the North Saskatchewan River south to Texas, and from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Great Lakes in the east. For many centuries this vast stretch of flat grasslands and rolling hills provided the many peoples who called the prairies their home with everything they needed. The Plains Indians followed the bison as it roamed across the prairies in large herds numbering thousands. Together with elk, deer and antelope, the bison furnished native peoples such as the Sioux, Cheyenne, Blackfoot or Assiniboine with food, shelter, and clothing.
Classroom Activities & Projects
In exploring 'Paths Across the Plains' students and teachers can explore how environment shapes the lives of human beings as individuals and as groups. By taking a close look at the footwear made by Plains Indian women, students will see how the peoples of the Great Plains have learned to use the wealth of animal and plant life to their best advantage. By examining the artistry of shoe manufacture and decoration, students will become aware how the unique natural environment of the Great Plains created economic systems, shaped social structures and influenced cultural life.
Sewn into the artistry of traditional porcupine quill-work and 19th century beadwork is the story of how the Plains people embraced new ideas and struggled to preserve traditional values and methods of making footwear.
In Ontario, the subject of the exhibition forms part of the Grade 6 social studies curriculum (Aboriginal Peoples and European Explorers). Teachers of anthropology and North American history will also find a vast array of material to supplement their course-work.