Diversity and Communication To be successful, the Corps needed men with many talents and the ability to talk and work among themselves as well as talk with the new peoples they were to meet. A man needed to be able to do his main job and step in to help another if need be. Some of the men knew English, French, Omaha, Hidatsa, Mandan or Plains Indian sign language.
• When the Captains were in council with the Indian Chiefs often the speeches and questions had to be translated multiple times. For example, when the Corps fi nally got to the plains and needed horses from the Shoshone, Sacajawea would translate from Shoshone to Hidatsa for Charbonneau, who would translate to French for one of the Corps soldiers, who translated to English for the Captains. See how difficult it is to pass on a message even when you speak the same language by playing the telephone game:
• With the help of an adult, make up two fairly long or complicated sentences or questions
and write them down or memorize them.
• Break into two teams. The first person in each team whispers their sentence or question to
the second person. The second person must try to remember it exactly (without writing it
down) and tell it to the third and so on until it has gone all the way down to the last person.
• The last person then repeats the line. See how close they are to having it exactly right!
Just imagine how hard it must have been when the Corps members not only had to
remember what was said, but try and translate it into a different language! The translators
had to really listen closely.
OR Try This: (Check out “A Winter Count” on page 4)
• The Yankton Sioux communicated important events of the year from a child’s birth to the death of a great chief, from the first green grass to the winter snows. These were recorded on “Winter
Counts”, histories painted on tanned buffalo hides. Symbols of events showed highlights of
the past year.
• Make a “winter count” of your own, tell the story of your year in symbols.
• You will need some paints or crayons, some brown craft paper or a brown paper bag.
• With the help of an adult, cut the paper or bag roughly into the shape of a buffalo hide.
• Draw or paint your “winter count” using 12 pictures. Each representing an event that
happened during one month of your year. Important events on some winter counts were
meteor showers shown by a small star with a long tail or the capture of horses using
lots of hoofprints. Did you move during the year? You could draw a symbol for a moving
van Or go camping with your troop? Or go to Girl Scout resident summer camp for the
fi rst time? You could draw a cabin or tent.. Or make a new friend? You could draw two
people shaking hands. Or maybe you saw a lightning storm for the fi rst time.
• Share the story with your troop.
• Many tribes told their stories with paintings or carvings on rocks. These drawings are called
pictographs and the carvings petroglyphs. There are some very good examples in the
Columbia River Gorge. Learn about pictographs and petroglyphs in the pacifi c northwest.
Invent some symbols for your self and draw a story or life event in fi gures, share your story
or event with others.
• You will need some fl at, rounded stones with a surface big enough to draw on and some
marking pens. (River rock is very good for this sort of work)
• Remember, be a responsible citizen and don’t draw on rock walls or fences.
• If you would like a bigger canvas get some washable street chalk, get permission from
an adult and make your drawings in your driveway, or if it is safe to do so and you have
adult supervision, in your cul-de-sac. But remember to wash it away when you are
• Or you can put paper up on a wall or fence and use crayon NOT felt pen, because felt
pen bleeds thru the paper into the wall or fence.