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ARTS Trunks: Games and Storytelling

Introduction to Games and Storytelling:

This educational resource has been designed to not only engage students in learning about themselves and their particular ethnic heritage but also about the culture of other ethnic groups within the state, all by focusing on the universal themes of games and storytelling.

Although the population base of North Dakota could be described as small in terms of size, the representation of different ethnic groups within the state is in excess of seventy. These groups range from the American Indian tribes of the Arikara, Chippewa, Hidatsa, Mandan, and Sioux nations to the British, French, Germans from Russia, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh as well as the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. 

Immigration to the "New World" happened in waves and for a variety of reasons: religious persecution, famine, war, or individual choice. This immigration continues today as Bosnian, Haitian, Kurdish, Somali, and Vietnamese peoples have fled their own war-torn countries as refugees in search of new hope and an opportunity to continue their lives in peace.

The intermingling of these diverse peoples has had an impact on the traditions they brought with them, the individual immigrants themselves, the people they met, and the evolution of traditions in general. In North Dakota we have the opportunity to witness the change that happens over a period of time when new ideas, practices, and people meet. This is a fascinating phenomenon to witness and one that continues to enrich the fabric of our communities throughout the state.

Sample Objects:

The following are photographs of some of the objects you will find in the Games and Storytelling Trunk. The objects were made by North Dakota artists whenever that was possible.

  • Wycinanki or "Kokott Papercut" The folk art of Polish paper-cutting. Made by Angie Kokott (Jamestown, North Dakota)
    Polish paper cutting
  • Nanabooshoo Dolls, Nanabooshoo is a character in Ojibwa stories sent to teach people good morals. Made by Deborah Gourneau (Belcourt, North Dakota)
    Nanabooshoo Dolls
  • Three Billy Goats Gruff and Troll Masks. These are two of five masks made to help illustrate the Norwegian tale "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." Made by Judith Simundson (Dubuque, Iowa)
    Troll masks
  • Eagle Hand Drum, Rawhide stretched on a wooden frame and tied with sinew. Made by Clayton St. Claire (Belcourt, North Dakota); and Beaded Drum Stick, Assorted colors of beads and buckskin, tied with sinew
    Made by Pat Ramsey (Belcourt, North Dakota).
    Eagle hand drum and beaded drum stick

Sample Activities:

The Games and Storytelling Trunk contains four handbooks:

  • One "Theme Introduction" which contains context and other introductory material, and
  • Three "Activity Handbooks" - one for Kindergarten through fourth grade, one for grades 5 through 8, and one for grades 9 through 12. The activities are divided into four fine arts disciplines: drama, dance, music, and visual arts. There is also an integrated activities section which can be merged into the studies of other subject areas, such as science, history, or physical education.

Each "Activity Handbook" has a number of student activities using various trunk objects and elements from the "Theme Introduction". The activities were written by artists and arts educators from North Dakota and Minnesota. Some sample activities are included below:

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