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Education & Classroom Resources

Teaching Mari Sandoz

Both Crazy Horse and The Horsecatcher are appropriate for a wide range of ages and abilities. They are especially valuable to teachers looking for age-appropriate material about Native American life and culture (mostly the Cheyenne), Nebraska writers, young people making difficult decisions, and the history and geography of the Great Plains.

Crazy Horse Study Guides

The following discussion questions were created and compiled by adult students in English 435/535, Native American Literature, in the Spring 2009 term at Chadron State College, Chadron, Nebraska. Matt Evertson, associate Western American Literature and Writing. For more information, contact Matt at

The Horsecatcher

The Horstcatcher, a short novel for young adults, originally published in 1957, was runner-up for the 1958 Newberry Award. As she so often did in her books, Sandoz blended history with fiction in The Horsecatcher. While Sandoz tells an interesting and powerful action story focused on Young Elk, a young Cheyenne trying to find his place in his family and is tribe, she also fills the book with historical and geographical information and re-creates in believable detail the daily life of a Cheyenne village in the 1830s. The Horsecatcher, by Mari Sandoz, is published by the University of Nebraska Press in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Horsecatcher Study Guide & More

The guide was written by Steven Shively of the University of Nebraska Department of English in consultation with teachers of the seventh grade differentiated classes in English at Millard Lefler Junior High School in Lincoln, Neb. This document also contains a biographical sketch of Mari Sandoz; an Autobiographical Sketch of Mari Sandoz’ Early Years taken from her book, Hostiles and Friendlies, a reprint of Far Looker, a story Sandoz wrote in 1939.

The story introduces Sandoz’s attitude toward Native Americans, vocabulary words and study/discussion questions for each chapter of The Horsecatcher, and questions to ask students to interpret and make judgements about what they have read.

The Horsecatcher Lesson Plans & Classroom Activities

You will find teaching activities for use with The Horsecatcher, offering some specific ways to make the Mari Sandoz book come alive in the classroom for, perhaps, reluctant students/readers. These will help students understand:

  • the history of the horse in North America
  • the location and interactions regarding horses between various Indian tribes on the Plains
  • equine (horse) terms used in the novel
  • connect the significance of horse catching to the main character, Elk, in the novel.

The Horsecatcher Study Guides

Here are some study guides, classroom resources and teaching activities for use with The Horsecatcher. This Study Guide is divided into Two Parts: Major Themes/Issues Related to the Book as a Whole and Discussion Questions Related to Each of the 15 Chapters.

The Horsecatcher Reader Testimonials

Readers have shared their reactions and responses to The Horsecatcher. These are both personal and critical responses, formal and informal.

Guides for Studying The Horsecatcher, The Far Looker and Mari Sandoz

While titled a study guide for teaching the Horsecatcher, there are many other items of import in this wonderful companion piece. In this study material you will find and introductory letter from Caroline Sandoz Pifer, who was Mari’s youngest sibling. Don’t let the date fool you into thinking this is dated material, though, as it includes a short story Sandoz wrote in 1939 called Far Looker and an introduction written by Sandoz, as well as study questions for both. In addition, there are historical timelines, explanations of Native traditions, map use, puzzles and other activities.