Lesson Plan

The "Five Civilized Tribes"

Mississippian culture village

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Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
30 Minutes
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words.

Essential Question

Who were the "Five Civilized Tribes"?
Why were they different from other tribes in the United States?


The student will describe how early Native American cultures developed in North America.
a.Locate where the Native American tribes settled with emphasis on Arctic, Northwest, Plateau, Southwest, Plains, and Southeast.
Locates facts that answer the reader’s questions.
  Identifies and uses knowledge of common graphic features (e.g., charts, maps,
diagrams, illustrations).
Summarizes main ideas and supporting details.
Makes perceptive and well-developed connections.


A map of the United States looked different when the first Europeans arrived. The land was the same, but it was not divided into states. The Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and other tribes lived in the Southeast. When the first Europeans arrived, the Cherokees lived in what is now western North Carolina, East Tennessee, and North Georgia. The Creek Confederacy was divided into two groups: the Lower Creeks, who lived along the Ocmulgee, Flint, and Chattahoochee Rivers, and the Upper Creeks, who lived in the Coosa and Tallapoosa River area. Many members of the Creek Confederacy moved to Florida and became known as the Seminoles.
This lesson will acquaint students with the various Southeastern tribes and help them realize how important rivers were to Native American Civilization.



Southeastern Indian pictures to color
Wall map of the United States
Handout maps of the Southeast
Bulletin board (not required)


Lesson Hook/Preview

Understanding the five tribes that lived in the Southeast United States.


Show students a wall map of the United States and explain the difference between “then and now.”


  1. Divide students into five cooperating learning groups.
  2. Assign each group one of the five tribes to research and give them a blank map of the Southeast.
  3. Conduct research to fill a fact sheet about each Native tribe
  4. On maps of the Southeast, color in the area where their tribe lived in early times
  5. Make a list of the rivers that flow through their area
  6. Share facts
  7. Have each group make an oral presentation about their tribe
Arrange fact sheets and maps on bulletin board for additional study, if desired

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Last updated: June 21, 2018