‘Lifeways of the Plains’ gives glimpse into the past at KRIV
By Annette Tait
If a pin had dropped in the earth lodge, the sound of its landing would likely have been heard. Unless retired teacher Barb Patzman was speaking, explaining the lives and customs of the people who had once occupied the dwelling at Knife River Indian Villages.
Eighteen pairs of eyes focused intently on Patzman, a KRIV volunteer, as she explained the culture of the Hidatsa people, the tools they used, the games they played, and the food supply.
“The buffalo could be called the WalMart of the prairie,” Patzman told Center-Stanton fourth graders participating in the KRIV program. “It had that much stuff in it that could be used.”
Patzman talked about the many parts of the buffalo that were used, from its meat for food to its hide for clothing, and the various uses for different bones as tools. The students learned about cache pits used to store dried meat and vegetables, and how they were scattered throughout the village, making it less likely a raiding party would find the entire food supply.
Students also learned that a lot of “modern” inventions really aren’t all that new. Patzman showed various items used by the Hidatsa, such as a bird’s wing for a fan, bison bladders for water skins, and paint for sunscreen, and told them about the “original crockpot” – bison stomachs.