Activity Flat Bag


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Activity Flat Bag

  1. 1. Teachers Newsletter Eiteljorg Museum This activity will show you how to make a flat bag inspired by those used by the Nez Perce. Flat Bag Weaving Visit the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art to learn more about Native American games and culture. Step 1 Cut the flap off of your envelope. Step 2 Fold the envelope in half and make 4 vertical cuts in the front and back sides, being careful not to cut all the way through to the top or bottom. Stop cutting about 1/2-inch from the edge, then unfold the envelope. Step 4 Repeat step three with another strip of paper, this time starting under, over, under, over, until you reach the edge of the envelope. Cut the excess and tuck in the end. Continue this pattern until you’ve reached the top. Turn the envelope over and repeat steps 3 and 4 until you’ve reached the top. Step 5 Using a glue stick, secure all the loose ends on the bag. Materials { Small coin envelope approx. 2” x 3” { Scissors { Strips of paper { Raffia { Hole punch { Glue stick Step 3 Using a strip of paper, begin weaving it through the slits on one side of the envelope; over, under, over, under, until you come to the edge of the envelope. Then, cut off the excess. Step 6 Punch a hole in each side of the bag and string a piece of raffia through. Step 7 Add designs to your bag.
  2. 2. Teachers Newsletter Eiteljorg Museum Focus: Flat Bags of the Nez Perce Flat bags have been used for many years. There are several ways to find out more about them and you can see real ones on exhibit at the museum or when talking to a primary resource like Rosa Yearout (Nez Perce), the museum’s March artist in residence, about her family’s history and how they live today. Flat bags FAQ: the what, who, when, where of flat bags. What: Flat bags, also known as corn husk bags or flat twined bags, have been created as a clever solution by the North American Plateau culture area peoples. The containers can lie flat, store well and are easy to transport. The flexible sides can expand to hold food and other valuable items. Who: Nez Perce, Umatilla, Shoshone and other Plateau-area weavers gathered dog bane, a plant material, processed it and wove it. Depending on the era, they added designs and decorations, originally made from plant materials. By 1840, corn husks from farms and purchased wool thread were used to decorate the bags. Flat bags are still being made by a few talented people. Sacagawea (c. 1788-1812 or 1848), guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition, may have used one of these bags. She was originally from the Shoshone Plateau people who had a similar lifestyle as the Nez Perce. When: According to archaeological evidence, flat bags have been used for more than nine-thousand years. Where: Flat bags were used and are currently made in the Columbia River Basin in the Plateau Cultural Area. Bag fact: Members of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery asked for flat bags to carry the root foods they were given by Nez Perce peoples they met on June 7, 1806. The Nez Perce women were reluctant, because one bag could represent hundreds of hours of labor and four to six months of weaving. That was long before people lived with time-saving equipment like electricity, hot water in homes and household appliances. IDOE Academic Standards Connections: 5th grade Social Studies 5.1-.4: Include this activity with units on the Corps of Discovery and Lewis and Clark in fifth-grade history, gov- ernment, geography and economy. 5th grade Visual Arts 5.1: Discuss the manner in which different cultures have similar design solutions for similar functions, using the Nez Perce flat bag example. 5.8: Integrated studies Academic Standards correlations: Additional Academic Standards may be met in math/ geography and visual arts/creative production by looking at the geometric patterns on traditional basketry and flat bags. Consider English/Language Arts connections and reading comprehension with the comparison of fictional and non- fiction works. For more information check these references: Columbia River Basketry: Gift of the Ancestors, Gift of the Earth by Mary Dodds Schlick, 1994 University of Washington Press, Seattle. ISBN 0-295-97289-0 Kaya books; Kaya: An American Girl 1764 (Boxed Set) by Janet Beeler Shaw PBS information on Lewis and Clark: Speeches by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce: Sites of tribes and nations:;;; Additional connections—Cultural and Physical Geography long ago and now Depending on the grade level, maps, orienteering and land use over time will be of interest to students. Talk about how Native peoples are still here, and how they have continued to live in an area referred to as the Plateau Cultural Area. Help your students find major Plateau physical geographical features, like the Rocky Mountains and the Cascades. They should investigate the placement of the Columbia River, Columbia Basin, Snake River and Bitterroot Range and the trade relationships over time that developed with neighbors to the west (Northwest Coast), the east (Plains peoples) and the south (Great Basin) areas. Have your students locate cities, states and partial states and Canada’s provinces within the Plateau region (British Columbia, Alberta, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho). They can also research the origin of place names, such as Oregon and Idaho. Discuss how the Plateau cultural area is an invention of anthropologists and how regions are compared. Questions in American history within the Plateau Cultural Area, 18th century to the present: How and when did the Nez Perce get horses? How did having horses change the Plateau cultures? What were the Native trade routes that involved the Plateau peoples and region? What brought non-Natives to the region? What was the search for a “Northwest passage” that brought Lewis and Clark into the home of the Nez Perce and Shoshone? Later, who was Chief Joseph and what was the relationship between the Nez Perce and the US government in the 1870s? What is this area known for today? What traditions are followed by contemporary Plateau Native peoples?