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AIH-10: Adapting to A New Culture

Group Size

Small Groups


Utah LessonPlans


Students will understand how American Indians adapted and interacted with other ethnic and cultural groups.


A variety of books, poetry and excerpts about American Indians and their culture after or during the reservation era. These can be very short. It would be best if each student had a copy of all the material.

Background for Teachers

This is the second of five lessons in the Seventh Grade American Indian History Lesson Plan Unit:

Ideas for material:

  • Littlefield, Holly. Children of the Indian Boarding School
  • Grutman, Jewel and Gay Matthaei. The Ledgerbook of Thomas Blue Eagle
  • Slapin, Beverly and Doris Seale. Through Indian Eyes: The Native Experience in Books for Children
  • Works by Leslie Marmon Silko, Laura Toke, Lucy Tapahonso

Instructional Procedures

Essential Question 1: To what extent were Utah's American Indians forced to adapt and interact with non-Indian cultures?

Students will study and evaluate a variety of pictures of American Indians interacting with other cultures.

  1. Hand out photo analysis sheets and picture of the Mandan Tribal Chairman crying after signing away tribal lands to the Bureau of Land Management, one to a group, and have students analyze the picture. Provide a large photocopy of a picture for every three or four students (each group has its own photo). Photos of American Indians interacting with other cultures work well. A good source book is Native American Testimony by Peter Nabokov -- ISBN# 0-14-028159-2
  2. Have groups present their picture and analysis to the class. Teacher uses overhead transparencies as students present.
  3. Teacher will lead discussion of questions generated by each group.
  4. Invite a tribal member or tribal community leader to discuss with the class an analysis of the photo. The resource tribal person should begin with "This is my story and my experience…" because each person will not represent an entire tribe or community, but only his or her perspective.
  5. Through Indian Eyes -- Reader's Digest

Essential Question 2: How did the non-Indian culture influence or impact the American Indians and their cultures?

Students will be able to understand how forced adaptation to the non-Indian culture affected the American Indians and their culture.

  1. Divide students into small groups. Assign each group one selection.
  2. Each group will read the material together and discuss.
  3. Have groups fill in the adaptation worksheet -- one for each selection.
  4. The group will illustrate the main idea of their selection on chart paper. An explanation of the drawing should be at the bottom.
  5. Each group will share their drawing with the entire class, explaining how the picture represents the main ideas of the selection.

Essential Question 3: What kinds of current issues are Utah's American Indians facing today?

  1. Have each student select a teacher-approved, relevant topic.
  2. Give students the Current Event Form and explain the background needed.
  3. Have students research on the Internet or use other media sources to find current news articles.
  4. Interview an older community member about his or her education. Contact Title VII Coordinator in your district for assistance in identifying community member. Use Interviewing Tips as a help.
  5. Students will present information to the class.

Assessment Plan

Essential Question 1: Assessment

  • Have students in their groups write individual reflections on photos after the discussion and completion of the lesson.
  • Teacher monitoring for understanding during discussion of questions.

Essential Question 2: Assessment

  • The illustrations and presentations are the assessment.

Essential Question 3: Assessment

  • Completion of Current Event Form
  • Presentation


Utah State Office of Education
Social Studies Enhancement Committee
American Indian History

Lesson Plan Writers:

  • Gloria Thompson - Ute
  • Nanette Watson
  • Jeanette Badback - White Mesa Ute
  • Don Mose - Navajo
  • Merrillee Chamberlain - Paiute
  • Venita Tavepont - Ute
  • Rebecca Bennally - Navajo
  • Tauna Christianson
  • Gayle Buxton
  • Judith Hegewald
Under the Direction of the Indian Education Specialist, Shirlee Silversmith. Special thanks to Dolores Riley.

Created: 01/28/2005
Updated: 02/03/2018