TBH Lesson Plan

Lesson Title: Whose Buffalo?

Grade Level: 7th

Rationale: This two-part lesson deals with events on the Great Plains of Texas leading up to the Red River War of 1874. Students will examine how the Plains Indians vied with white commercial buffalo hunters for the millions of Great Plains buffalo, and will create an illustrated broadside supporting the interests of either the Indians or the commercial hunters.


Lesson Duration:

Two 45 minute class periods or one 90 minute block

Objectives: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)

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Social Studies, 7th Grade

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View English Language Arts Reading TEKS

English Language Arts and Reading, 7th Grade

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Activity – Part I: The debate: Whose buffalo? - Gathering information and using prewriting strategies

How many ways can you use a buffalo?

Interview with a buffalo hunter

Red River War

Activity – Part II: Creating a Broadside

Step 1: Remind students that in Part I of this lesson, they identified arguments for the rights of both the Plains Indians and the commercial buffalo hunters. In Part II of the lesson, students will take a stand supporting the rights of either the Indians or the commercial hunters.

Step 2: Introduce broadsides by asking students to discuss what forms of media they use to get their news. List their responses. Point out that in the 1870s there were no televisions, radios, or Internet reports, and while newspapers were available in some towns and cities, it was the posting of broadsides that allowed people to express their political or social ideas in public. Explain that the broadside was an inexpensively produced early form of mass media that was usually printed on one sheet of paper, and often contained illustrations and short songs or poems that could help get the author’s message across to the public. They were generally posted in stores windows or other public places.

Step 3: Advise students that in this part of the lesson they will work in a group to produce a broadside defending their chosen side of the “Whose buffalo?” debate. Distribute copies of the “Whose buffalo?” grading criteria to students and place a transparency of the grading criteria on the overhead. Go over it with students.

Step 4: Have students get into groups of 3 or 4, letting them choose group mates who share the argument they want to put forth in their broadside. Advise students they will need to consult the “Whose Buffalo?” grading criteria and divide up the work of creating their broadside among their group members.

Step 5: Distribute supplies necessary for creation of the broadsides and allow the rest of the class period for students to produce their broadsides.


Highlight pertinent information in the fact sheet for transfer to the graphic organizer.

Student Product:


Have students list ways they might express their opinions today that didn’t exist in the 1870s. Possible answers include bumper stickers, blogs, group emails, television or radio ads, etc.


Remind students that in the 1870s, killing of the Great Plains buffalo was a hotly debated issue. Ask students to identify issues dealing with animals that are controversial today. Possible answers include protection of all endangered animal species, using animals for laboratory testing, raising animals only for their fur, animal attacks on humans (e.g., pit bulls) and animal attacks on livestock (e.g., wolves, coyotes), etc.


Carol Schlenk

Texas Archeological Research Laboratory

University of Texas at Austin

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