- Grade Level:
- Sixth Grade-Eighth Grade
- American Indian History and Culture, Geography, Government, History, Social Studies, Westward Expansion
- 45-50 minutes
- Group Size:
- Up to 36
- National/State Standards:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4 through 6-8.8
OverviewIn "Territorial Ranges" students will look at the first Americans and why they moved.
The Homesteaders, Immigrants, and American Indians unit is broken up into six lesson plans, taking 45-120 minutes to complete, targeting sixth through eighth grade students. A class does not have to complete every lesson in the unit - each lesson comes with its own set of objectives and resources. This is lesson 2 of the unit.
Why do people move and who were the first Americans?
Students will get a better understanding of American Indian tribes.
Students will be able to:
- discuss the fluidity of tribal ranges
- lack of early maps of American Indian tribes
The first people living on the prairie were the ancestors of the various American Indian Tribes. Through archeology, we can surmise that the plains have been inhabited for centuries by groups of people who lived in semi-permanent villages and depended on planting crops and hunting animals. Many of the ideas we associate with American Indians such as the travois, various ceremonies, tipis, earth lodges, and controlled bison hunts, come from these first prairie people.
Horses were brought to Mexico by the Spanish in the 1600s. With the migration of the horse from Mexico in the 1700s, the culture of the plains people changed to one that was more mobile. Before the horse, the cultures hunted and traveled in relatively small restricted areas. With the introduction of the horse into American Indian society, greater distances could be covered. The horse became a status symbol to the American Indian and individuals amassed vast herds of these animals.
The first known historic tribe in the plains area was the Pawnee who lived in earth lodges part of the year and in tipis during the summer and fall hunts. The earth lodge tribes such as the Arikara, Hidatsa, Mandan, Omaha, Oto, Ponca, Pawnee, Wichita, Winnebago, among others, planted crops such as corn, squash, and beans and stored their food in underground storage caches. Their semi-subterranean lodges held from 10 to 40 people. Several lodges were grouped together to form fortified villages. Smaller groups ventured out with tipis for the bison hunts, returning to the earth lodge for winter.
Other tribes associated with the Great Plains. were the Lakota-Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapahos, Comanche, Kiowa, Crow, among others. They lived mainly in tipis, traveling through the Plains region. These groups were the great hunters of the Plains following the bison or "buffalo" and foraging for berries, roots, and other plants. They lived in extended family relationship groups, traveling to familiar places and encampments. Often, they traded and warred with the earth lodge dwellers. When the prairie was changed by the coming of Euro-Americans, the culture of the prairie tribes was dramatically affected. The prairie tribes were moved off their traditional homelands onto reservations by the United States government to make way for the ever increasing settlement. They were forced into a foreign lifestyle that was in opposition to their own.
Ask students to stand up if they were born in the town in which they now live; stand up if they were born in the state they now live in; stand up if their parents were also born there; etc. Then discuss why people move.
Listed below are some good questions to start off a discussion with your students to see what they know before you begin.
Who were the first Americans?
Where did they come from?
How did they get here?
Where in the Americas did they live?
Are all American Indians alike?
What makes American Indian groups unique from one another?
How many tribes were there? How many can you name?
Using a Smartboard or other device, go to the Native Languages website:
http://www.native-languages.org/states.htm. Have each student click on a state to reveal the names and locations of the tribes that originally inhabited each state. Give each student a blank map of the Unites States. Have students locate the homeland of the tribes you investigate on the website on the map.
Then go to the Library of Congress webpage http://bit.ly/abNzgD. Compare this map to the map you previously examined. Have each student discuss with a partner the differences and why they occur. Discuss as a class the fluidity of tribal range as well as the lack of maps until much later as well as the fact that many American Indian groups were forced off their land.
Have students map a road trip that goes through at least 4 states. They should
write a fictional story about the people they will encounter as well as what the land is
like. This could either be a fictional story that requires students to use their knowledge
of where tribes lived that allows them to make up a fictional lifestyle for each tribe or
students could do research on each of the tribes to make their story more accurate.
The Native Languages website (above) has good information that could be used
This lesson plan is part of a larger curriculum unit on Homesteaders, Immigrants, and American Indians for grades sixth through eighth. To view the entire curriculum or other individual lesson plans, please click the links below.
Homesteaders, Immigrants and American Indians (entire unit)
Last updated: April 10, 2015