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This picture is of our first GeoCivics Cohort and mentors at Northeastern University, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. This first Academy explored the Westward Expansion through the lens of Indigenous peoples. The statue is of Sequoyah, a polymath of the Cherokee Nation who created the Cherokee syllabary. The statue is located on the Northeastern University campus in Tahlequah, OK. The Cohort included teachers from Florida, Michigan, Virginia, Puerto Rico, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arizona. 

Westward Expansion through the lens of the Indigenous People

K-12 5E Lessons created by Teachers for Teachers!
 

The following lessons were written by our first GeoCivics Academy participants in 2022. Lessons are based on the Academy place-based experiences of Westward Expansion through the lens of indigenous people. Through an exploration of important historical sites and museums, and meetings with content experts, and leaders and members from various indigenous nations, teachers deepened and broadened their knowledge of Western Expansion through the lens of indigenous peoples.

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You can be a water protector too!
Author: Ashley Alarcon, Arizona
Grade 4

This lesson focuses on water usage and preservation while exploring cultural differences between the Indigenous perspectives and today’s mainstream cultural perspective on water. This 5E lesson tells the story of how Indigenous people utilized water as well as the land for many things they needed to survive without necessarily changing it. During westward expansion, the treatment of land and water changed dramatically. However, the Indigenous perspective on natural resources has always stayed the same; we see the land as a relative and water as life.

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Native American Boarding Schools in the US
Author: Melissa Mercado, Arizona
Grade 5

The purpose of this 5E lesson is to help students understand the impacts of Native American Boarding Schools on Native American tribes’ cultures and languages, through maps, first person accounts, and examining intergenerational trauma from different Indigenous and Native American peoples. This lesson will also identify how a tribe is reclaiming and sustaining their culture through language revitalization.

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This Land, Our Land
Author: Nedre White, Arizona
Grade 2

Students will gain an understanding about what happened to Indigenous People and how they were removed from their lands as a result of Westward Expansion. They will learn how the land where they are now once belonged to Indigenous People and will learn how to develop a land acknowledgment to show honor and respect for Indigenous People and their lands.

Culture and Food
Author: Nedre White, Arizona
Grade 2

The foods we eat are one aspect of a person’s culture. Through exploring their own personal experience of eating certain foods, students in this lesson will develop a deeper understanding of the meaning of culture and its importance to us all. Students will build an understanding of culture and how it can be represented through the things people do, including through foods they eat, and they will also learn about the cultural foods of indigenous people and how they were  forced to give these up as a result of relocation.

So What’s In A Story?
Author: Nedre White, Arizona
Grade 2

The purpose of this lesson is to help students understand how Indigenous Peoples’ stories reveal aspects of their cultures, and for students to be able to use learning to create their own stories to reveal their own family’s culture.

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Unit: The Changing Agricultural Landscape of Indigenous Peoples
Author: Greg Holder, Michigan
Grades 11 & 12

Students will learn about the important role of the Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) in Indigenous Peoples’ food culture and will research and learn about mono cultural and poly cultural farming. They will also learn how The Westward Expansion impacted Indigenous Peoples’ food culture. In the final lesson, students will research and build a Three Sisters garden at their school.

Additional Teaching Resources

 

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Rules of Acknowledgement: Criteria Used by the Federal Government to Recognize Indigenous Tribes
Author: Pedro DeJesus, Puerto Rico
Grade 12

In this lesson students will learn how today the Federal Government requires indigenous groups to meet certain set of criteria in order to be recognized by the government as an indigenous group.  Through research students will learn about the Tainos tribe and determine whether they meet the criteria and should be recognized by the Federal Government as an indigenous group.

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Jeannine 

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Frances

Indigenous Sacred Places
Authors: Jeannine Kuropatkin, Arizona & Frances Coffey, Virginia

Grades 9-12

In this lesson students will learn what sacred places are, and how different groups and people attribute spiritual or religious significance in physical locations.

Tribal Sovereignty and the Navajo Long Walk  
Authors: Jeannine Kuropatkin, Arizona & Frances Coffey, Virginia
Grades 9-12

In this lesson, students will learn about their family’s migration stories, the forced migration and internment endured by the Navajo people, and the impact of the Navajo Treaty of 1868 on tribal sovereignty.

Preserving, Protecting, and Honoring Indigenous Sacred Places
Authors: Jeannine Kuropatkin, Arizona & Frances Coffey, Virginia

Grades 9-12

In this lesson, students will learn about the struggle between indigenous people and the migration of newcomers into their lands. Students will examine a case study on Mt. Rushmore and identify an area of concern/interest regarding land rights of indigenous sacred places. Students will then investigate, research, and create a civics action plan to address an area of concern/interest regarding land rights of a local indigenous sacred place. 

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Zena (left) & Lori (right)

Unit: Tears That Water A Trail
Authors: Zena Lews & Lori Lane, Oklahoma
Grades 6-8

Students will learn about what led to the Trail of Tears and how this impacted Indigenous People in the Southeastern U.S. They will compare and contrast the Trail of Tears and its results with those of the Holocaust. They will also learn about the importance of Land Acknoweldgements and the connections between the Trail of Tears and respecting indigenous lands.

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Unit: Founding Documents and Westward Expansion
Author: Juan Armijo, New Mexico
Grades 11 & 12

Students will learn about the foundational principles of the Declaration of Independence and also how Westward Expansion impacted geography, Indigenous Peoples, and government support in ways that oppose the key principles and ideals of the Declaration of Independence.  They will also learn how to make a claim to support their views about a topic or issue by providing research-based reasonings and evidence that supports their claim.

The Culture of the Early Arizonans
Author: Elizabeth Fuiava, Arizona
Grade 3

In this lesson, students will learn about one of Arizona state’s first inhabitants and their cultural practices, and how they compare to cultural practices of today.

Honoring Early Arizonans
Author: Elizabeth Fuiava, Arizona
Grade 3

Students will learn whose land they are on and what a land acknowledgement is,  and how it is formed and carried out/displayed, and how it is used to honor Indigenous Peoples. They will also learn how to use online sources to determine the latitude and longitude of a place and to locate the lands Indigenous people lived on, as well to learn about these people groups.

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Heather (left) & Jewell Eva (right)

Unit: The Long Walk through an Indigenous lens
Authors: Jewell Eva Burns & Heather Holguin, New Mexico

Grade 4

Students will learn about Western Expansion, and become familiar with Indigenous People and their culture and learn about some of the struggles they experienced when forced to leave their homeland and to endure the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo.

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Beginnings of Expansion
Author: Krizia Columna, Florida
Grades 6-8

In this lesson, students will learn how Manifest Destiny affected indigenous populations and how it impacted the migration patterns of the indigenous populations and their access to basic needs.

The Age of Jefferson
Author: Krizia Columna, Florida
Grades 6-8

 

Students will learn about the Indian Removal Act, signed into law by President Andrew Jackson, and how this tied to Manifest Destiny. They will also learn how this led to the removal of Native Americans from their ancestral lands, and how this impacted Native American peoples’ cultural practices and relationships with the federal government.

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