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        Indian Pride | Treaties and Sovereignty | Lesson Plan

        Create understanding among students of the significance of treaties as a part of the foundation of Indian sovereignty and the rights of American Indians as having a political identity.

        Lesson Summary

        Create understanding among students of the significance of treaties as a part of the foundation of Indian sovereignty and the rights of American Indians as having a political identity. Dispel myths about benefits owed to American Indians.

        Time Allotment

        4 class periods

        Learning Objectives

        • Understand the origin of Indian treaties and their importance to contemporary Indian people and governments.
        • Be active questioners and critical readers while analyzing primary documents.
        • Compare and contrast the similarities and differences of treaties between foreign nations and the United States and Indian nations and the United States.
        • Identify and explain the major concepts of the foundation of treaties between the federal government and Indian Nations.
        • Be able to identify the types of provisions that were common in many Indian treaties.
        • Explain in various forms the primary the reasons why treaties are living documents and importation today to Indian tribes to protect and preserve the rights contained within treaties.


        • Videos from Episode on “Treaties and Sovereignty ” PBS Indian Pride series.
        • Monitor, Computers with Internet Access.
        • Library access to published reference sources.
        • Optional materials for visual presentation aids. Handouts
        • Books and References: Copy of Part III, A Summary History of United States Indian Policy, American Indians: Answers to Today’s Questions by Jack Utter, 1993, pp. 44 - 46. National Woodlands Publishing Company. American Indian Tribal Governments by Sharon O’Brien. Indian Tribes as Sovereign Governments, (2004). Wilkinson, Charles and the American Indian Resources Institute. Pp. 5 – 7. American Indian Lawyer Training Program, Inc., Oakland, CA.

        Introductory Activity

        Class Period 1:

        Students will view episode #102 “Treaties and Sovereignty” of the PBS Indian Pride series. Following a discussion of the video, questions will be charted for later discussion.

        Students will be asked to identify any unfamiliar words from the video. These will be added to the key vocabulary terms list. Assignment will be given to students to: Read Handout #1 – What is a Treaty?

        Students will read the handout and add to the vocabulary list and terms\words which are unfamiliar. Out of class assignments: students will be asked to research the list of key vocabulary words, and additional words added to the list.

        Students will answer the following questions:

        1) What are some of the common reasons why treaties are entered into?

        2) What are the five (5) primary elements of most Indian-U.S. Treaties?

        Learning Activities

        Class period 2:

        Students will be given Handout #2. Understanding Treaties.

        Working in teams, students will be asked to assign members of the team to take one concept. Each concept from the reading will be identified and explained. Students will be asked to give an example (if applicable) within their state of a treaty, or nationally, which involved an Indian tribe; and which involved a foreign nation. Students will identify the provisions of each treaty and identify its importance to the nations who entered into the treaty. Summary of students work will be charted and retained for Class Period IV. After reviewing Handout #2: teams will discuss and answer the following questions:

        What were some of the major challenges when negotiating treaties between the United States government and Indian nations?

        Would leaders of countries today agree to sign a treaty written in a language they could not understand?

        Would leaders today sign a treaty containing ideas or concepts vastly different from their way of thinking, containing provisions that are vastly different from practices and customs that sustained their country and communities?

        Class period 3:

        Instruct students that they will work in the library for the third class period. Students in the team will research Kapplers Treaties: and identify an Indian treaty between and Indian tribe within their state or region.

        Teams will research and respond to the following questions:

        1) Provide the name of the treaty.

        2) Name the parties to the treaty.

        3) What are the primary provisions of the treaty (by section)

        Class period 4:

        Students will read Handout #3: Importance of Indian Treaties Today. 

        Based upon their research and review of the handouts, teams will present to the full class paying attention to the following questions: Based upon what your team researched about the treaty you selected, Draw conclusions, and communicate to the full class your findings about a particular treaty that responds to the following questions:

        What provisions did the tribe reserve for itself?

        Is the tribal nations occupying its’ aboriginal territory (original homelands) as identified in the treaty?

        Culminating Activity

        Student recognizes and demonstrates:


        • An understanding of the role of treaties related to the American Indian livelihood.
        • An understanding of the interactions between American Indians nations and the United States government in their state or region.
        • Demonstrates an ability to use a variety of written, virtual resources as research.
        • Critical analysis to make informed judgments about current issues.

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