An Indian tribe diorama is an artistic way of capturing the lifestyle of a particular tribe. Children can design a scene inside a box, showing the landscape, people, homes, clothing, food and/or other elements of tribe culture. Children should first learn about a particular type of Native Americans, such as the Plains or Pueblo people. They can then select a specific tribe from within that group, like the Sioux or Arapaho, who were Plains Indians. Decide what type of scene to build. Determine the aspects of tribal life you want to depict and keep a list of your ideas.
Think about what the land looked like where the tribe lived in order to create a realistic background. If focusing on Plains Indians, for example, design a scene in the Great Plains of North America. The Plains Indians were known for living in the grasslands with rolling hills and valleys and very few trees. Use a shoe box or other type of box as your structure. The box will stand on its side. Measure and cut out paper that you can glue to the inside walls of the box. Before gluing, color a picture of the landscape. Buffalo were the main source of food for this tribe. Draw some buffalo in the distance. The image should be continuous from the walls of your box around to the backdrop. The base and sky can also be colored appropriately, or you can add real grass or dirt to the base. Glue the papers inside and allow the glue to dry.
Decide what type of scene you want to build. You can choose a high-action scene, such as a hunting scene, or a calmer display showing people near their homes. The Plains tribes lived in camps. They built teepees, which were easy to dismantle and move as they followed the buffalo herds. Add teepees into the backdrop of your diorama by cutting out triangular shapes from brown or tan construction paper and gluing them in the picture at the back of your box. You can also build three-dimensional teepees by rolling construction paper into cone shapes and attaching a few toothpicks through the center. Glue these to the base of your box.
Decide how many people to put in your scene and what they will be wearing. People of the Plains tribes typically wore animal hides and moccasins. Sioux women wore long deerskin dresses. Sioux men wore breechcloths and leggings and buckskin shirts. Many people braided their hair. On special occasions, Sioux people were known to paint their faces. Purchase Native American figures to include in your diorama or draw and cut out your own on a thicker paper like card stock. If using paper, leave extra tabs on the bottom of the feet. Fold the tabs and glue them to the base of the diorama to make the people appear to be standing. Include details about the people. For instance, create bows and arrows and spears used for hunting, or include horses, which Plains Indians depended on for better hunting and faster travel.
The people in your diorama should be engaged in something that reflects the culture of the tribe. For example, they may be cooking buffalo meat on a fire. Create a fire by piling toothpicks and gluing them down. Color some parts of the toothpicks with red and orange markers to depict flames. Use some modeling clay or play dough and create some slabs of meat to drape over the fire. Plains Indians also ate berries, vegetables, deer and elk. Berries can be made out of tiny pieces of red clay or play dough. Women were known to do beadwork. For this type of scene, lay out a small piece of cloth as a blanket. Then glue on a pile of actual beads.
About the Author
Rachel Pancare taught elementary school for seven years before moving into the K-12 publishing industry. Pancare holds a Master of Science in childhood education from Bank Street College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Skidmore College.
Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media