Welcome to the Culture-Based Arts Integration Curriculum

The Culture-Based Arts Integration (CBAI) Curriculum website is the ongoing product of the work of many K-8 public school teachers in northern Minnesota.

The lessons and activities provided here were developed as part of two projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement, Arts in Education Model Demonstration and Dissemination Programs beginning in 2006. These projects address specific gaps and weaknesses in educational service, infrastructure, and opportunities for American Indian and non-Indian students.

The first project, Project Intersect (2006-2010), and the current project, CBAI, are comprehensive and collaborative models designed and facilitated by the University of Minnesota's Institute on Community Integration and Department of Curriculum and Instruction Art Education Program.

Project Intersect focused on students in Cloquet Public Schools and the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School. The CBAI Project focuses on students in St. Louis County Schools District #2142 in northern Minnesota.

These projects seek to enhance interest, understanding, enthusiasm, and performance in standards-based subjects among American Indian and non-American Indian students in grades K-8. Teachers of grades K-8 and art teachers participate in training to enhance their understanding of Ojibwe culture and art and then work with project staff to design lesson plans in order to integrate this new knowledge into their existing curricula. These new lesson plans are available to you on this website, which will be updated as more lessons are created.

About the Lesson Plans and Cultural Content

Because these lesson plans were created by working teachers, you will notice the personal and often conversational tone in which they are written. Additionally, the teachers took care to offer suggestions and helpful hints for their effective use by teachers and educators elsewhere.

The lesson plans shared here may not always be appropriate choices for all classrooms, regions, and contexts. The teachers of this project worked in collaboration with elders and culturalists in their community to ensure proper and appropriate curriculum, based on local Ojibwe art and culture.

Before committing to any lesson plan idea, please be sure to research the literature, resources and any classroom materials you intend to use for accuracy and appropriateness. There is great diversity in Native communities and we cannot stress enough the importance of educating yourself, as well as connecting with elders and culturalists in your region for guidance and assistance in curriculum development.

Please take a minute and look over the resources, cultural materials, and informative links as you prepare to bring these lesson plans thoughtfully and appropriately into your classroom.

Core Principles of the Intersecting Art Curriculum

  1. The belief that American Indian youth and communities contribute greatly to classrooms and to learning.
  2. The value of arts education in all classrooms, particularly when thinking and working with diverse communities and cultures.
  3. The importance of fully integrating American Indian art and culture into classroom curricula as part of all content areas, rather than as an 'add-on' at the end of the year.
  4. The strength of community relationships in classrooms as a way to reinforce collaboration, welcome a diversity of ideas, and bridge home and school.
  5. The power of continuously working toward culture-based arts integration as a holistic way of teaching, rather than as a one-time event or special project.
  6. The significance of contemporary American Indian materials and curriculum resources in all classrooms and schools.
  7. The need for rethinking, rewriting, and responding to how American Indian cultures, communities, and ideas have been/are represented in many schools.
  8. The awareness of myths, stereotypes, and misinformation about American Indian traditions, ideals, and communities.
  9. The conviction that culture-based arts integrations can improve the learning of all students in all content areas.


The lesson plans on the website were developed by classroom teachers in grades 1-8 with the support of project staff. Connie Hyde, Cloquet Public Schools and Tara Graves, Fond du Lac Ojibwe School served as on site staff. Dr. James Bequette, Arts Education faculty at the University of Minnesota and Dr. Jean E. Ness coordinated activities with the University and project sites, and Kelly Hrenko, graduate student in Arts Education managed the collection, editing, and consolidating of all lesson plans, observed teachers in their classroom's, and provided content support to all project teachers.

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