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AIH-18: U.S. Policies that Relate to American Indians


Students will demonstrate an understanding of the impact of the western settlement patterns on American Indians.



Background for Teachers

This is the second of three lessons in the Eleventh Grade American Indian History Lesson Plan Unit:

Additional reference information for lessons on Indian Law and Policy

Instructional Procedures

Essential Question 1: How did the non-Indian concept of land ownership and desire for precious metals affect American Indian life and culture throughout the land as the American Indians were pushed west?

Lecture and discussion about sources


  • “Introduction” in Frontiersmen in Blue
  • Chapter 1: "Manifest Destiny and the Army” (esp. pp. 3-5, 6-9) in Frontiersmen in Blue
  • Utley, Robert M. Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army and the Indian, 1848-1865. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1981. T/S
  • Utley, Robert M. Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1984. T/S
  • Utter, Jack. American Indians Answers to Today’s Questions. University of Oklahoma Press.2001
  • Section H – Legal Status and Tribal Self-Government, p. 239 T/S
  • See section entitled, “European Contact and Impact” T/S Focus primarily on the following subsections: Initial Reaction to Europeans, Relations with the Colonial Powers, the Ravages of Disease, Wars and Enforced Migrations, Relations with the U.S; land rush in the Midwest , gold rush in the west.

Essential Question 2: 1853 Walkara War (Ute). What were the causes of the Walkara War?

Students and teacher read and discuss the War from sites and other information, select characters and create a dialogue. If desired research dress, food, land, etc.


  • A History of Utah’s American Indians, Forrest Cuch, ed., Utah State Division of Indian Affairs, 2000. T/S (also online)
  • Wakara
  • The Walker War

Essential Question 3: 1863 Bear River Massacre (Shoshone). How does perspective affect the way history is written?

Divide class into four groups and give each an account of BRM from different perspectives. Have each group read and discuss their feelings, who was right, and why or was there a right?

Essential Question 4: What were the immediate and lasting results of the Long Walk of the Navajo in 1864?

Teacher-guided questions and research for discussions; guest speaker, preferably a Navajo elder.


  • Why were they taken on this long walk?
  • How many miles was this place?
  • Who decided where they were going?
  • How did they travel?
  • What route/s did they take?
  • How did they know where to go (compasses, maps, etc)?
  • What time of the year did they go?
  • Did they know how far they would have to travel?
  • What clothes did they have; what foods and tools did they have?
  • How did they care for their sick along the way?
  • Where did they stay?
  • Were homes already in existance at the place they were being taken?
  • What are some of the ways that the federal government violated the Navajo culture, religion, traditions, and beliefs during the Long Walk (I.e., traditional burial)?


  1. If feasible, take a field trip to Fort Sumner , site of Hweeldi, which was the Navajo concentration camp in 1864-1868.
  2. Read Raymond Friday Locke’s book. The Book of the Navajo. Have students understand that this book offers a view of what the government structure was like at Fort Sumner as it was imposed on the Navajo people. This is significant because it is the first time the Navajos were forced to operate under a government imposed upon them.
  3. Assign stories found in Dine Stories of the Long Walk and Bighorse the Warrior to students to read and present to the class. This book is a collection of accounts passed down to the storytellers that tell the Navajo point of view. Analyze the stories and compare them to the “historic” account of the Long Walk.
  4. Trace the routes of the Long Walk using the website listed above.
  5. Interview Navajo family members for their perspective of the Long Walk. Stories could be “historic” knowledge or personal family histories depending on the knowledge of the family and willingness to share stories. Use the provided form: Interviewing Tips.
  6. Compare and contrast the first Navajo form of government with today’s government. Point out federal government’s control of the Navajo government. Have students do the lessons with its activities from the website referenced above.
  7. Discuss why the U.S. Department of the Interior have the responsibility of overseeing American Indians lands and trust funds.

Essential Question 5: Could the 1865 Black Hawk War have been avoided or was it inevitable?

Bring in a member of the Northwestern Shoshone Band who is a descendant of survivors of the Bear River Massacre and have them share stories that were passed down from generation to generation in their tribe. Contact the tribal office in Brigham City to request a resource member. 435-734-2286

Show Video followed by Discussion. Assign short article from media below to read.


  • Utah History To Go - Black Hawk War
  • Utah History Encyclopeida - Black Hawk War
  • Movie: Utah 's Blackhawk War: Cultures in Conflict (VHS) Host: Merrill Osmond, Written by Glenn Anderson, Music by Steve Wilbur, Research: John A. Peterson, Produced and directed by Rob Sibley

    As the American Civil War came to a close, the Territory of Utah erupted into violence as the Ute Indians and the Mormon settlers fought to occupy the same land. Although Brigham Young continually preached peace, men, women and children on both sides of the conflict were subject to raids, treachery, betrayal, kidnapping and murder. Lead by Chief Black Hawk, the natives were successful in stopping white expansion as scores of Mormons evacuated their settlements and retreated to larger communities and newly erected forts.

    Told through vivid re-creations and by the descendants of those involved in Utah's Black Hawk War, this documentary focuses on the cultural, economic and political affairs which existed in Utah during the 1860s.

Assessment Plan

Essential Question 1: Assessment

Essential Question 2: Assessment
Students take a position and discuss the first encounters between the Pioneers and the American Indian, the events and cultural differences which eventually escalated into war.

Essential Question 3: Assessment
Students in groups will retell this story from four perspectives: Cavalry, American Indian, Non-Indian Culture, and Modern Apologetic.

Essential Question 4: Assessment

  • Discuss the Roles – cavalry and Navajo children, adults, elders going on Long Walk and what might each group have been thinking.
  • Report on the books: Dine’ Stories of the Long Walk and Bighorse the Warrior and their research findings— (An account must be created). Lesson under language titled “The Long Walk”
  • Written essay/compare and contrast the Navajo form of government versus the federal form of government.

Essential Question 5: Assessment
Discussion about the effect of expansion by Mormon pioneers on the Ute, Paiute, Navajo, and others. Based on the video and the article have each student create a fictional story from either the American Indian or settler’s perspective. One to two pages.


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

Lesson Plan Writers:

  • Loya Arrum - Ute
  • Don Mose - Navajo
  • Irene Silentman - Navajo Nation
  • Brenda Francis
  • Janice Schroeder - Lummbee
  • Lee Borup
  • Gary Tom - Paiute, Tribal Council (Kaibab Band)
  • Dolores M. Riley, Consultant
Under the Direction of the Indian Education Specialist, Shirlee Silversmith. Special thanks to Dolores Riley.

Created: 02/01/2005
Updated: 02/04/2018