Inside: Explore this Native American Indian shield from the Crow Nation with your students and then have students explore the concept further with the related Native American art activity!
I’m focusing on Native American art this month, and I have already written about the Mound Builders and the Northwest Coast Indians. Today’s Artwork of the Week is a really cool Crow Nation shield. I’ve got some discussion questions and a related art activity to go along with this American Indian shield below!
This shield was owned and designed by the important River Crow chief, Arapoosh (also known as Sore Belly) from the first half of the 19th century on the Great Plains of America. These shields are important spiritual objects to the Crow (or Apsáalooke in their native language). The images on the American Indian shield often came to the shield’s owner in a vision quest or dream, and the shields contain powers from the Above World where the gods resided. These holy beings in the sky represented various components of the universe like the sun, moon, clouds, bird, etc.
Arapoosh depicts a skeletal moon spirit on his shield. Attached to the shield are eagle feathers, a deer tail, and the head and neck of a stork. These attachments frequently were used to refer to the beings in the Above World.(I didn’t see the stork’s head at first, but look closely at the left of the image! Wow!)
American Indian Shield Art Discussion
Want to show this Native American Indian shield to your students? Here are some discussion questions to help you get the conversation started.
- What’s going on in this image?
- How do you think this image was used?
- What is attached to the shield?
- Why do you think Arapoosh attached those objects to his shield?
- What would you draw and attach to your own personal shield?
More Resources Native American War Shield
Learn more about this artwork at this link and watch the video below after your art discussion with your students.
American Indian Shield Art Activity
Have students design their own shield to represent them. What images are important to them? What powers would they hope the shield had and what items they attach to the shield represent those powers?
I’ve created a printable worksheet to make this a quick one-day lesson perfect before the Thanksgiving Break or for a sub!
Download the Shield Design Printable.
This post was originally published on November 30, 2015.
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