Subject: Social Studies

Grade: 9-12

Topic: Tribal Structure

Content: Through the use of manipulatives students will learn the Apsáalooke Tribal government structure and historical band structure.

Goals: Students will be able to name the branches of Apsáalooke Tribal government, as well as the historical structure of the tribe, and explain some reasons for the need for additional government.


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.

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 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 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 be able to discuss the Apsáalooke Tribe’s governmental structure and its functions. They will explain the changes in the political structure of the tribe.

Materials: Some kind of building materials, such as Legos, K’nex, Stickle Bricks, etc., divided into equal groups so teams can build a replica of the Apsáalooke Tribe governmental structure. A copy of the Apsáalooke text book. Lesson plan handout with government structure on it.

Introduction: Teachers and students will read about governmental structure in the Apsáalooke text book and then create a model which represents the Apsáalooke Nation’s governmental structure of today. They will then create a model representing the historical structure.

Development: Students will never forget the structure after the benefit of this hands-on, visual, reading, and listening experience. Through class discussion they will better understand why governmental operations may change over time, and how those changes change citizens’ relationship to their government.

Practice: Students will complete the model in groups or pairs. In addition, the teacher may ask them to draw a model of governmental structure. The teacher should encourage creativity and discussion.

Checking for Understanding/Evaluation: Students will identify the branches of the Apsáalooke government today and the historical band structure. The teacher may ask students to write about the structure of their own county, city, or state government.

Closure: Students will discuss how the Apsáalooke political structure is shaped today and why it has changed.