A Collage of Cultures

Lesson Plan


Students will learn about the various artistic materials and techniques used in the Osage Ribbon Appliqué Wearing Blanket and discuss how art and people represent a blend of cultures. Students will create a collage and develop a poem or other piece of creative writing that demonstrates geographical and cultural influence in their lives.

Intended Age Group

Secondary (grades 6-12)

Length of Lesson

One 55 minute lesson

Standards Area

Visual Arts


Students will be able to:

  • identify the various artistic materials and techniques included in the Osage Ribbon Appliqué Wearing Blanket;
  • explain how art and people represent a combination of different cultural elements;
  • create a collage of images and words that demonstrates the impact of culture and geography in their lives; and
  • create a piece of writing that reflects the influence of culture and geography in their lives.


  1. Warm-up: Ask students to brainstorm answers to the following questions: Where does pizza come from? How many countries are represented in a single pizza? While pizza originated inItaly, today the ingredients come from many different parts of the world. Tomatoes may come from Mexico, olives may be grown in the Mediterranean Sea region, and beef sausage may come from cattle raised in Argentina.
  2. Display the image of the Osage Ribbon Appliqué Wearing Blanket and, using the About the Art section, discuss how the materials used in the blanket and the decorative elements come from various countries and cultures. Point out that the ribbon came from Europe, as did the wool cloth and beads. The horses may symbolize prosperity or indicate an Osage family name. Talk about how our lives today are the product of many cultural influences.
  3. Have students list all the places in the world that they or their ancestors have lived. What evidence do they have in their lives that shows a connection with each of these places? Do they have any belongings from particular regions of the country or world where they or their ancestors have lived? What traditions do their family practice?
  4. Invite students to create a collage of images and words that demonstrate their connections with different parts of the country and/or world. You may also encourage students to include images that represent areas of the world they would like to visit or are inspired by. Be sure to provide a wide variety of magazines, old maps, and other materials.
  5. Have students compose an accompanying poem, creative writing piece, or personal reflection that explains their collages and demonstrates the connection between each of these geographical places/cultures and the students’ lives.


  • Lined paper and pen/pencil for each student
  • Assortment of materials for creating collages including magazines and old maps
  • Large pieces of construction paper
  • Glue
  • About the Art section on the Osage Ribbon Appliqué Wearing Blanket
  • One color copy of the blanket for every four students, or the ability to project the image onto a wall or screen


CO Standards

  • Visual Arts
    • Invent and Discover to Create
    • Observe and Learn to Comprehend
    • Relate and Connect to Transfer
    • Envision and Critique to Reflect
  • Language Arts
    • Oral Expression and Listening
    • Research and Reasoning
    • Writing and Composition
    • Reading for All Purposes

21st Century Skills

  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking & Reasoning
  • Information Literacy
  • Invention
  • Self-Direction

About the Art

Ribbon Appliqué Wearing Blanket

Ribbon Appliqué Wearing Blanket

early 1900s

Artist not known, Osage

Who Made It?

A woman from the Osage tribe sewed this blanket in the early 1900s for a special dance called the I-loⁿ-shka [ee-LONSH-kah]. European explorers entered the Osage territory in the early 1600s and the Osage began trading with the French for things like wool cloth and silk ribbon—materials that were used in the making of this blanket. Ribbonworkers are female and the art form is learned from female relatives. Each Osage ribbonworker creates her own patterns. To make the silk decorations, the artist used a template to trace a design on colored ribbon, then she cut and folded the ribbon to form stylized arrowhead shapes and horses. She then stitched each shape onto a second colored ribbon, which she sewed by hand onto the wool blanket. Once complete, the blanket would have been worn by an Osage woman over her shoulders or as a skirt. Today, artists continue to produce ribbonwork, but they might use sewing machines to construct the patterns. These blankets are still worn today on ceremonial occasions.

What Inspired It?

Every Osage who dances the I-loⁿ-shka, both male and female, wears clothing decorated with ribbonwork. Blankets like this one are often given as gifts at the dance. When worn during the I-loⁿ-shka dance, the blanket moves and sways with the dancer, surrounding him or her with a sense of history and tradition. Symbols and use of colors may vary between clans or even families. Horses, like those on this blanket, often symbolize prosperity and may also indicate a family’s name.

I-loⁿ-shka means “playground of the eldest son.” An eldest son is chosen keeper of the drum for a year or more. The drum-keeper chooses committee members who are knowledgeable in tribal traditions to plan the dance. His family gives gifts to committee members, pays for the dance, and prepares food for participants. Dances are held outdoors and dancers circle around a drum, moving in a counterclockwise direction. In the early days, only warriors danced the I-loⁿ-shka. Today all men and boys, and some women, dance around the singers and the drum.



The horses and border are made from silk ribbons. After the French Revolution of 1789, silk had become unpopular in Europe and the French silk industry turned to America as a market for the unwanted ribbons.

Wool Cloth
Wool Cloth

The Osage acquired wool cloth through trade with Europeans. Wool came in different colors including red, black, navy, and white.


Horses symbolize prosperity and can also indicate family names. Notice the tiny yellow beads that outline the silk horses.

Funding for lesson plans provided by a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation. Additional funding provided by the William Randolph Hearst Endowment for Education Programs, and Xcel Energy Foundation. We thank our colleagues at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education.