Subject: Social Studies, Geography

Grade: 5-12

Topic: Social Studies, Geography

Content: Students will learn about the Apsáalooke Nation flag.

Goals: Students will understand the meaning behind the Apsáalooke Nation flag.


Social Studies Standard 2: Students analyze how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance to understand the operation of government and to demonstrate civic responsibility.

Social Studies Standard 4: Students demonstrate an understanding of the effects of time, continuity, and change on historical and future perspectives and relationships.

Social Studies Standard 6: Students demonstrate an understanding of the impact of human interaction and cultural diversity on societies.

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 2: There is great diversity among individual American Indians as identity is developed, defined and redefined by entities, organizations and people. A continuum of Indian identity, unique to each individual, ranges from assimilated to traditional. There is no generic American Indian.

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 histories, which are as valid as written histories. These histories pre-date the “discovery” of North America.

Essential Understanding 6: History is a story most often related through the subjective experience of the teller. With the inclusion of more and varied voices, histories are being rediscovered and revised. History told from an Indian perspective frequently conflicts with the stories mainstream historians tell.

Essential Understanding 7: 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

Objectives: After completing this lesson students will have learned that each symbol on the Apsáalooke Nation flag represents a special meaning to the Apsáalooke.


Crow Seal Handout [PDF]
Flag Handout [PDF]

Lesson plan, handout. Apsáalooke Nation flags can be ordered from www.tmealf.com/indian.htm; this website has other tribal flags available as well.

Introduction: Teachers will use this lesson plan to learn about the Apsáalooke Nation flag. This seal on a field of light blue is filled with representations of Apsáalooke culture and social order.

Development: Students will better understand the importance and significance of the sovereign Apsáalooke Nation.

Practice: Students will read information about the flag and then label the parts on the Apsáalooke flag handout.

Checking for Understanding/Evaluation: Students will explain at least four elements of the Apsáalooke flag.

Closure: Students will discuss the meanings of the Apsáalooke flag as well as the United States and Montana State flags. Go to this website to hear Apsáalooke youth singing the Apsáalooke Nation flag song.


This lesson plan was designed by Pretty Eagle Catholic School Crow Studies teacher Frances Takes The Ememy. Aho!

The Apsáalooke Nation Flag

The Apsáalooke Nation flag shows the tribal seal amid a field of light blue. The seal symbols represent various parts of Apsáalooke culture.

Beginning at the bottom of the seal is a Peace Pipe. The pipe is offered to placate supernatural powers. The sacred pipe is used in the following ceremonies: The sacred pipe ceremony, sacred tobacco society, sweat lodge, sun dances, daytime hot dances, parade dances through a camp, warrior homecoming dances, leading a caravan relocating to a new site, to discuss matters by chieftains, and by individuals or groups. Each of the three Apsáalooke bands has five warrior societies associated with the pipe as well.

Above the pipe a Bundle is depicted. This bundle represents the sacred tobacco society, a group unique to the Apsáalooke.

Above the bundle is a Sweat Lodge. There are three main stories told in the sweat lodge—the Seven Buffalos, the Twins, and Big Metal—that teach the moral conduct, ethics and character of the tribe.

In the center of the seal you see a Tepee. The tepee represents the Apsáalooke as a four pole people, meaning their tepees are erected with four rather than three base poles. Four is the number of ongoing seasons; there are four directions, and winds. The base poles also represent original boundaries of Apsáalooke Treaty of 1851. This treaty explained the original Apsáalooke country as having one base pole at the Black Hills, one pole at the Wind River, one pole resting at the Bear Tooth Mountains and another pole at the Bear Paw Mountains.

On either side of the tepee are two War Bonnets. These represent the Crow clan system, the trailing feathers represent the original ten clans including the Bad War Deeds, Big Lodges, Brings Game without Shooting, Burnt Mouth, Good Prairie Dogs, Greasy Mouth, Newly Made Lodges, Piegan or Treacherous Lodges, Ties the Bundle, and Whistling Water.

Behind the tepee you can see three Mountain Ranges of the Crow, the Pryors, Big Horns, and the Wolfs. Most importantly they represent the permanency and strength of the Apsáalooke Nation.

At the top of the seal is the Sun with its rays of yellow and orange, signifying the importance of the sun as it represents enlightenment, hope, and peace.

This information was gathered from Mickey Old Coyotes book about the Apsáalooke Nation flag. Mr. Old Coyote was one of the designers of the flag.