Yellowstone Gateway Museum Offers Teaching Trunks to Educators

Press Release


January 31, 2013

Livingston, Montana: The Yellowstone Gateway Museum has developed four teaching trunks for teachers to check out and share with their students. These trunks explore the history of Park County as interpreted through the traditional lifeways of native people. Each trunk is thematic and is packed with hands-on activities designed for different age groups from early elementary grades through high school. Many of the lesson plans are from the Montana Office of Public InstructionIndian Education For All, as well as other institutions like the Smithsonianthe National Park Service, and the Montana Historical Society. Designed for classroom use for one or more weeks, the trunks are free to Park County educators, including home-school teachers.

The Local Food and Medicine Cabinet trunk is an impressive show and tell of native Montana plants. Park High School students collected fifteen specimens from the area around historic Fort Parker, east of Livingston, and carefully preserved in a specimen box. Students learn how native people used the plants for food or medicine.

The Tools of the Trade trunk explores handmade tools that were used in early Native American cultures, and includes beautiful stone tool displays created by local knapper, Ray Alt. Students can handle replicas of traditional tools.  They also explore the various ways that native people used the bison for food, clothing, jewelry and more.

The Pack your Bags and Travel through Montana trunk helps students discover their history through the use of topographical maps. The collection highlights Montana’s seven reservations and many tribes. It also explores the Livingston area or “The Great Bend of the Yellowstone” through time and stories.

The Step into a Native American Closet trunk includes hands-on examples of the fashions and fabrics of Montana’s local tribes.  Students also view postcards in the Gallery of the Past that feature American Indian people, their lands, animals, and culture.

Each trunk includes a resource notebook and CD that has links to online lesson plans, aiding with curriculum development. This information is also available at, where it can also be downloaded and printed for classroom use. Books, photographs, and objects that support each theme are numerous and varied, making the trunks a valuable and fun resource for learning. Teachers may use the trunks in the classroom or at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum, 118 West Chinook Street. Museum staff and volunteers are also available to aid teachers by bringing the trunks to the classroom and giving a presentation.

The creation of the trunks was part of a larger project that was made possible through a Best Practices: Enhancing Museum/School Collaborations grant from the Montana Historical Society. It was funded by the Office of Public Instruction-Indian Education for All Division in partnership with the Montana Historical Society. The overall project was a collaborative effort of museum staff and volunteers, local high school and 5th grade history teachers and students, the Farm to School Program, Project Archeology, Humanities Montana, the Pryor School, members of the Crow Cultural Committee, and the Tribal Historical Preservation Office. A speaker series, and a cross-cultural day at the original Crow Agency, Fort Parker, were among the project’s accomplishments.

Please visit our website,  or call the museum, 406-222-4184, to reserve a trunk and for more information.

Contact: Karen Reinhart, museum registrar