Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

Museum and research center closed for renovations. For more info, call (406) 444-2694.

The Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspectives

For countless years before the arrival of the first Europeans in North America, Plains Indians chronicled their histories in magnificent pictorial styles. Early explorers and fur traders introduced new artistic tools and techniques into the region in the early 1800s, and native artists incorporated these new mediums into their traditional styles of pictographic histories.

Based on a temporary exhibit of the same name, this multifaceted curriculum provides you with all the tools necessary to bring ledger drawings and other pictographic art from the permanent collections of the Montana Historical Society into your classroom and to engage your students both in the study of a vibrant art form and to gain new insights into Indian peoples’ adaptability and resilience during a period of rapid change. 

The Art of Storytelling Curriculum grew out of a temporary exhibit displayed at the Montana Historical Society (MHS) in 2012. In cooperation with the Indian Education Division of the Montana Office of Public Instruction, MHS created curriculum packets, which included all the resources on this website as well as eight prints of selected images from the exhibit. These packets were sent to all Montana public school libraries in October 2012. Copies of this packet are available to classroom teachers and librarians while supplies last. To request one, email

This web-based version of the curriculum includes the following:

Basic Information for Teachers

Sample Templates

Lesson Plans

PowerPoint Presentations


Selected Images from the Montana Historical Society Exhibit