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This complete lesson uses an engaging PowerPoint, image and document analysis, and group activities to teach about the causes of US westward expansion in the late 19th century, and the resulting conflicts between the government and Native Americans. A detailed 4 page Teacher Guide is included, as well as a student Activity Packet and Document Set. This lesson will take you 1-2 days, depending on class length.
The lesson begins with a "Do Now" establishing historical context and themes, then moves on to an activity in which students use primary source images to analyze causes of western migration and expansion. The activity is engaging and allows all students to participate at their own levels. Causes discussed include:
- John Gast's "American Progress" and the idea of Manifest Destiny
- the completion of the transcontinental railroad
- increased 19th century immigration to the U.S.
- the end of the Civil War
- the Homestead Act and government sale of Native American land
- the steel plow's impact on Great Plains farming and irrigation
- the invention of barbed wire fencing
- the near elimination of the Plains bison population
Students extrapolate initial impacts on the Plains Native Americans and plan ideas for Native American response "strategies" in a fun partner activity.
Then students learn about specific responses and conflicts between Native Americans and the US government through PowerPoint, class discussion, and a document analysis group jigsaw activity. Specific content covered includes:
- The Great Sioux War and the Battle of Little Bighorn
- The Dawes Act
- Indian Boarding Schools
- The Ghost Dance Movement
- The Massacre at Wounded Knee
A film clip from "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" brings to life the lesson's material. Students conclude by getting VERY fired up analyzing connections to today, such as modern demographic statistics on Reservation life, and discussiong how the Standing Rock protests about the Dakota Access Pipeline are connected to the conflicts of the past.
The lesson concludes with an optional summative and analytical writing activity.
This resouce covers all the key points students must know about this subject for state assessments, and is completely Common Core aligned.
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