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Students will understand American Indian cultures and changes caused by European exploration in North America
This is the first of three lessons in the Eighth Grade American Indian History Lesson Plan Unit:
Questions for students:
Material culture: Items you can touch and/or see. Clothing, shelter, food, books, medicine, written records, tools, art, etc.
Non-material culture: Items you cannot touch and/or see and which, if not recorded in some way, would be lost to archeologists in the future. Religion, language, and oral traditions.
Culture must always have a date; you cannot discuss culture without attaching a date to it, because the culture of a given group of people changes with time. This becomes obvious with the discussion points below.
Discuss the following:
This is the point of the Panel Discussions. When the students are divided into research groups, they will learn about the different cultures that were present on the American continent and be able to present what they learned from their research. They should be able to provide examples of American Indian cultures, both material and non-material. From their research, the students should learn that the modern American Indian cultures are still quite diverse from one another, and that many of the cultural items associated with American Indians are actually limited to very specific tribes and/or areas of the country. The students should also understand that the American Indian cultures from 200 years ago were drastically different from what we see today, just as American culture has changed dramatically since Colonial times.
People walked upon the face of the land known as the United States of America long before it was a country. Some archeologists estimate that the first inhabitants arrived 40,000 years ago, and others 13,000 years, before the present day. Many American children are taught about Christopher Columbus discovering America and the First Thanksgiving at Jamestown. Yet, this is not the correct history. As so the history now unfolds.
The Indians that inhabited the lands of the Americas learned of this great land by experience. They were eclectic biologists and scientists in their own right. They knew of the waters, the trees, and the various animals. They tilled the earth, grew food, and walked the paths through this great land. It was their homeland. They were the first people to inhabit this land. Their history is one of pride, sacredness, and knowledge of the land. Learning this history requires a look into their past, their trials, and the story of the days when others came to their land and began to change the face of their world forever. However, some of their traditional cultural values, ethics, and sacred beliefs exist to this day.
This unit is an attempt to help children understand the first people of this land and develop an even greater appreciation for their diversity, culture, and the generations whose hands helped forge this land and were pivotal in the building of this nation.
Some general information about American Indians:
Initial establishment of the imagery of the Indian, like the word itself, came from the pens of Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. Such imagery and stereotypes have prevailed to the present through inaccurate written accounts and Hollywood movies. Each Indian tribe has its own language, which is different frome those of other tribes; its own history and origins; its own customs (social and spiritual); its own traditional dances; its own styles of clothing; its own foods; its own values; its own culture; its own spiritual beliefs and practices; its own life styles; and its own tribal governments. Most tribes also have an extended family system.
Indian tribal groups also exist in Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Tribes of the Caribbean were mostly destroyed by diseases that the Europeans brought, and the remaining Caribbean tribal peoples intermarried with the French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and black slaves.
Essential Question 1: How were American Indian tribes/nations different from each other?
Students are divided into teacher-chosen groups to study and research an American Indian tribe or nation in order to become culturally knowledgeable about their assigned tribe. Students will then become a panel of experts. The cultural identifiers should be pre-Columbus. Cultural identifiers include, but are not limited to, food, shelter, societal structure, clothing, weaponry, language, population size, geographic location, government structure, religion, and traditions.
Essential Question 2: How did European encroachment affect American Indian land and population?
Show and discuss population and movement as shown on maps and charts.
Essential Question 3: Why did American Indian lands decrease?
Assign source material for groups to do presentations. Divide class into five groups, each researching the same sources but looking for evidence of their factor. Five factors are: religion, greed, gold, conquest, trade
Essential Question 4: How were American Indian cultures affected by European contact and encroachment?
From teacher lecture notes and a student search of listed resources or those individually found on the internet, students will create a slide show, collage, or other visual representation of their research related to the above question.
Essential Question 5: How were Utah's American Indian tribes affected by European contact?
Teacher lecture and discussion with students.
Essential Question 6: How did the Spanish entrance into Utah affect the American Indian tribes living here?
Teacher can begin the discussion with students about the statue of the American Indian at the Utah State Capitol Building and why he was chosen. Have students begin individual research prior to the class discussion with an assignment from the teacher. The question can also be rephrased: "Where has the statute of the American Indian been moved, and why?"
Refer students to:
Essential Question 1: Assessment
Class asks questions of the panel of students who have become culturally knowledgeable on each assigned tribe/nation.
Essential Question 2: Assessment
Show on a map the changes in Indian-held lands by 1492, 1700, 1850, and the present day.
Question 3: Assessment
Group presentation of five factors which led to decreases in Indian land (from Indian perspective).
Essential Question 4: Assessment
Multi-media presentation (which can be any of the following: slide show, poster, role-playing, collage, art work, virtual reality museum, timeline chart).
Essential Question 5: Assessment
Teacher-led discussion/review with Utah emphasis.
Essential Question 6: Assessment
The students will be able to write an essay or give an oral report on one of the five Utah tribes and how the Spanish affected their lives.
Utah State Office of Education
Social Studies Enhancement Committee
American Indian History
Lesson Plan Writers: