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Paiute Symbols and Logos

Lesson Summary

  • Learn about signs, symbols, petroglyphs, and pictographs.
  • Understand the meaning behind the logos of the five Paiute bands.
  • Create a personal logo through printmaking.

Lesson Plan and Procedure


Lesson Key Facts

  • Grade(s): 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts, Native American, Tribe Approved
  • Duration of lesson: Two sessions, 45 minutes each
  • Author(s): Rachel Gonthier, Eliza Een, and Emily Soderborg

Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah logo.This lesson was written in partnership with Dorena Martineau, the Paiute Cultural Resource Director, and Shanan Martineau Anderson, a member of the Shivwits band of Paiutes that specializes in Native American universal sign language as well as petroglyphs and pictographs. It was approved by the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah’s Tribal Council. Before teaching this lesson, please explain to your students that there are many indigenous tribes in the United States and that this lesson specifically focuses on the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah and does not represent other Native American groups. It is the hope of the Paiutes that other native tribes will respect their choice to share these aspects of their history and culture.

Petroglyphs and Pictographs

Show slides 2-8 from the PowerPoint presentation to see how many signs and symbols the students can identify.

Teacher: We can use symbols and pictures to communicate ideas. Throughout history, many people have used images to represent thoughts. Some have even preserved images on rocks.

Show images in slides 9 and 10. Explain the difference between petroglyphs and pictographs (see slides for more information).

Explain that these pictures are considered ideograms. An ideogram is a symbol that is used to represent an idea, concept, word, or phrase. Instead of writing out a whole sentence using letters and words, you could communicate the same ideas by using ideograms. Ideograms can be understood even if people speak a different language, which makes them useful messages to leave behind. Native American picture writing, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Chinese characters are all examples of ideographic writing.

Show image of Rock Writing Panel (slide 11). Explain that some native tribes carved or painted ideograms as a way of telling stories from their lives and recording their history.

Show an image of Vandalized Rock Writing (slide 12) and address the importance of being respectful to others’ cultures and their history.

Show slides 13-18. Teacher: These images are examples of Paiute picture writing. Today, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah is a federally recognized Native American tribe. The Southern Paiute language doesn’t have words that are written; however, they have used another form of documentation where pictures and symbols were etched into or painted on rocks, known by the Paiutes as “storied rocks.” These images communicate the stories, history, and other aspects of life that those who created the pictures felt were worthy of the time it took to record on rocks. Storied rocks were created by many Native American tribes across North America. Even though their spoken languages were different, the universal images on the rocks were still understandable by various tribes. Now, because the Paiute language is being lost, those who can understand the stories on the rocks are trying to share their importance with others. This set of pictures was put together by Shanandoah Martineau Anderson, a Southern Paiute, to share how the Paiute symbols can be read today.

Show slides 19-21 for more information about the Paiute tribe.


The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah consists of five constituent bands, meaning they combine together to create a whole. Each band has its own logo or seal. A logo is a symbol or ideogram that is meant to identify an organization or group.

Show students the Paiute Logo images and explanations (slides 22-28).

Teacher: We see logos all around us every day. Here are some common logos that you will probably recognize. Show slide 29-33. Go over logo meanings.

Teacher: Today you will be designing your own logo. Your logo can represent yourself, your family, your class, school, or any other group that is meaningful to you. Before you start drawing your logo, let’s brainstorm some ideas.

Have students choose what they want their logo to represent. Then have them take a couple of minutes to reflect on the following questions:

  • What is important to you or your group?
  • If you could describe yourself or your group in three words, what would they be?
  • What is something unique about you or your group?

Have students do the following:

Choose three words that they associate with themselves or their group and have them write each of those words in the middle of three separate sheets of paper. Direct students to create a word web by expanding on each word with additional words that relate (slide 35).

Tennis word web.

Bird word web.Ice cream word web.

Organize the words into three columns (slide 36).

Word columns.


Cross off words that aren’t as useful in creating your logo. Then mix and match to make unexpected combinations (slide 37).

Word columns with arrows.


Choose the strongest combination. Sketch the combination in as many different ways and styles as possible. Try to simplify shapes and details (slide 38).

Sketching ideas.


Choose your combination of styles and draw your final design in pencil (slide 39).

Symbols logo drawing.



Inform students that the printmaking process will turn letters and other images backwards, into a mirror image. Students also should know that the marks that they make with their pens will eventually end up white on their print.

  1. Cut out the drawing into a square or rectangle small enough to fit onto a foam plate (also known as the trademarked brand Styrofoam).
    Cut out image.

  2. Trace around the paper onto the foam surface using a pen.
    Outline of Styrofoam.

  3. Cut out the piece of foam.
    Cut out Styrofoam.

  4. Take the paper with the logo drawing and flip it over. Shade in the backside with a pencil or a dark piece of chalk. This will help transfer the image to the foam plate later.
    Color the back with pencil.

  5. Place your logo drawing on top of the piece of foam.
    Place image on Styrofoam.

  6. Hold the paper down so that it doesn't move around and use a ballpoint pen to carefully trace over your pencil lines. Use a medium pressure so that it creates an indentation in the plate but be careful to not press too hard or you will rip the paper or puncture your plate. Small amounts of the pencil shading on the back should transfer over so that you can see your marks better on the foam plate.
    Trace over drawing.

  7. Remove the paper and trace over the existing lines on the foam plate with your ballpoint pen. This will reinforce the lines and make sure that there is sufficient indentation in the foam. Be careful to not poke all the way through the foam.
    Trace over marks on Styrofoam.

  8. Use water soluble markers to color over the foam plate. Color with the lighter colors first then add darker colors last.
    Color Styrofoam with markers.

  9. Dip your sponge in water and squeeze out excess. Make sure the sponge isn’t too saturated with water. Drag the wet sponge evenly across a piece of paper twice so that the paper is slightly damp.
    Wet paper with sponge.

  10. Immediately place the foam plate face down in the center of the paper.
    Place Styrofoam on wet paper.

  11. Press down on the foam plate making sure not to let it shift or slide out of place. Lightly massage it and push down in different areas while keeping it in place.
    Press down on Styrofoam.

  12. Carefully remove the foam plate from the paper without smudging the ink.
    Remove Styrofoam.

  13. Repeat the process to improve your prints or try a new color scheme. Residual colors from the previous print can be wiped off of the printing plate with a wet paper towel or they can be left to add layers to the next print.

Purple print. Blue print. Green print.

Lime green print. Black print. Pink print.

If you don’t have the time or the materials to do a printmaking project in your classroom, consider having the students color in their logos with colored pencils or markers.


Each band found it important to share the meaning of their logo. Have students write about the meaning behind their logo or give them an opportunity to talk about it with others.

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss the American Flag as a symbol that reflects rights and responsibilities of United States citizens.
  • Demonstrate respect for the opinions, background, and culture of the Paiute Tribe.
  • Identify how the Paiute people maintain cultural traditions today.
  • Identify and explain how and where the Paiute people have recorded and illustrated stories and history of life through art.
  • Contemplate about the processes an artist uses to create a work of art, and determine messages communicated by an image.
  • Write explanatory text to convey ideas and information about a logo design.

Utah State Board of Education Standards


This lesson can be used to meet standards in many grades and subject areas. We will highlight one grade’s standards to give an example of application.

Grade 3 Social Studies

  • Standard 3
    • Objective 1
      1. Identify how these rights and responsibilities are reflected in the patriotic symbols and traditions of the United States (i.e. Pledge of Allegiance, flag etiquette).
    • Objective 3
      1. Demonstrate respect for the opinions, backgrounds, and cultures of others.
  • Standard 2
    • Objective 2
      1. Identify how indigenous people maintain cultural traditions today.

Grade 3 Visual Arts

  • Standard 3.V.P.3: Identify and explain how and where different cultures record and illustrate stories and history of life through art.
  • Standard 3.V.R.1: Contemplate about the processes an artist uses to create a work of art, and determine messages communicated by an image.

Grade 3 English Language Arts

  • Writing Standard 2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

Equipment and Materials Needed

  • Lesson PowerPoint
  • Scratch paper
  • Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Dark colored chalk (optional)
  • Pens
  • Foam plate: you can use foam from take-out containers or plates. Dollar Tree sells rectangular plates in bags of 30. You can also purchase foam plates that are made for printmaking at Dickblick.
  • Paper
  • Water soluble markers
  • Sponges
  • Water

Additional Resources



This lesson was created thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Utah Division of Arts & Museums.

Image References


Images 1: Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
Images 2-26: Rachel Gonthier