Introduction to Lakota/Dakota Oral Histories & Storytelling

by Jen Mellette


ND H.3-5.3, & ND H.3-5.9 Describe North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings. Describe how individuals and groups contributed to North Dakota.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.5.3 Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.


 45-60 minutes


Computer with internet connection

📃 Summary

Students read a Lakota story on the end of the world. The teacher gives a short presentation on oral history as used by the Lakota/Dakota. Students play a game with stories from Dakota or Lakota culture. Students present their own examples of oral history in writing or orally. Assessment is in oral or written presentation and via data reports on answers in Making Camp Lakota or Dakota.

📚 Lesson

Read the Story

Read or have a student read the Lakota story of the end of the world . The English translation can be found on the Akta Lakota Museum site here or you can copy it as a Google doc into your own classroom.


This short (5 minute) Google slide presentation explains what oral history is and how it was used by the Lakota/Dakota.

Play a Game

Have students play either Making Camp Lakota or Making Camp Dakota. From the earn page, select the LIFE tab. Select any 3 activities on the page to watch and answer the questions. If students have not played the game before, this should take 10-15 minutes from logging in, introduction, and the three choices.

LIFE pages from Making Camp Dakota.

The lessons featured in the Life tab are perfect examples of traditional oral history passed down by both Lakota/Dakota tribes. 

Share Oral Histories

Once students have played the game, ask students to think of and share orally a story told to them or if they are not comfortable with public speaking, have them write down in a notebook entry to be turned in for grading. 


The assessment value is based on what is written down in the notebook or what is shared orally with the rest of the class. Some students will not share or write anything down due to lack of knowledge, so those will be case by case and one on one with the student in question. Based on stories shared and notebook entries, adjustments to class series can be made to target how much time we can spend on a second lesson and third lesson with oral histories. 

Students completion of Life activities and their correct/ incorrect answers are recorded and data on student task completion and performance are available from the teacher reports.

RELATED Lessons You May Wish to Use

A Dakota boyhood is a lesson that also includes a story of Dakota life and teaches ELA at the fifth-grade level. This lesson also uses the Life section from the game Making Camp Lakota.

Breaking Down Division with Remainders – is a great addition for a cross-curricular unit. Making Camp Dakota follows a family at a pow-wow as the children learn about Dakota culture through stories from their elders and apply their long division skills along the way. This division lesson includes Making Camp Dakota game play, a video and Google slides presentation on division with remainders.

This lesson plan was originally developed as part of a series on returning culture and knowledge back to our youth as a part of the youth social skills night activities for the Native American Development Center in Bismarck, ND. It is part of a lesson plan series created by Jen Mellette, Youth and Community Coordinator. 

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