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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, 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.


Native American Boarding Schools in the US
Author: Melissa Mercado, 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.


This Land, Our Land
Author: Nedre White, 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.

Additional Teaching Resources


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