US – Independence

Lesson Plans – Elementary School

2 | US-Independence: A Tribal Perspective

Revolution and US Constitution in Indian Country

US History Curriculum
OSPI Tribal Sovereignty Curriculum for the Social Studies

Historical Era

Time Immemorial – 1770 |1770 – 1780 | 1780 – Present

Social Studies GLEs:

Grade 3: 2.2.1, 3.1.1, 3.1.2, 3.2.1, 3.2.2

Grade 4: 2.2.1, 3.1.1, 3.1.2, 4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.2.1, 4.4.1

Grade 5: 2.3.1, 3.1.1, 3.1.2, 4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.2.1, 4.4.1

Grade 6: 2.2.1, 2.3.1, 3.1.1, 3.1.2, 3.2.1, 4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.2.1. 4.4.1

Corresponding CBA:

Causes of Conflict or What’s the Big Idea?

Essential Questions:


Common Core State Standards

Grade 5_US_Revolution in Indian Country_CCSS

 Asset List



Video Content

Corresponding Chapters from the Regional Learning Project’s Required Curriculum Materials:

Ch. 4

DVD:  Tribal Perspectives of American History in the Northwest

Study Guide

DVD Chapter List

The DVD (75 minutes total running time) is divided into nine chapters that range from 3 to 27 minutes in length, listed here with time codes for each:

Chapter 1: Introduction (4:15 minutes)

Chapter 2: History Through Oral Tradition (7:20 min)

Chapter 3: Before Contact (6:55 min)

Chapter 4: First Contact (10:00 min)

Chapter 5: Advent of the Fur Trade and its Consequences (7:20 min)

Chapter 6: Missionaries and Early Settlers (6:50 min)

Chapter 7: The Treaties (27:00 min)

Chapter 8: Treaty Aftermath – Nez Perce Story (5:30 min)

Chapter 9: Reflections (3:55 min)



These lessons introduce students to the tribal homelands that predate non-Indian settlement in the Northeastern part of North America. Students will identify or explore Northeastern tribes by comparing/contrasting tribal lifeways of particular tribes as well as researching Northeastern tribes for information. These lessons introduce to students the belief, like most societies, that they have been placed here by their Creator and have inhabited this land since the beginning of time, or as tribal people say, since time immemorial. Once students see how many and to what extent independent nations existed before non-Indian settlement, the concept of tribal sovereignty—also introduced in this unit—will be easier to grasp. Accordingly, students will be introduced to the promises tribes have made to the Creator to care for the land, its resources, and all the living creatures who share the land with them. This is known as the Covenant with the Creator. This promise permeates tribal lifeways and still determines today how tribes choose to govern themselves.

After developing their knowledge and understanding of these now familiar concepts, students will be able to move on to Indian Land Tenure, a curriculum that details the colonization of this as well as other continents and indigenous territories. Teachers might choose to talk about land tenure issues today, as they relate to the tribes in the Northwest. While it is important that they know history and concepts brought forth with initial European settlement on the Northeastern coast of this continent, it is equally important that they understand that the west coast was also impacted by European settlement and encroachment by the Spanish and Russians. Students will then synthesize the information in graphic organizers to successfully complete the Causes of Conflict CBA.

Level 1

While studying Eastern Woodland tribes, it is important for each student to know:
• that tribal nations in the northeastern part of North America, were—and in many cases continue to be— individual sovereign nations;
• the names and locations of those tribal regions; and
• the Covenant that defines tribes and how they
govern themselves.



Students read an article that introduces them to basic tribal sovereignty concepts (On Sovereignty: Tribal Homelands, Vol.1, Issue 1)

PDF Version of Full Lesson Plan

Activity 1

Assessment: Students answer corresponding questions to the article

Approximate Teaching Time: 55 minutes
The article that students read asks them to grapple with the irony of one people losing their independence while another gains theirs. It is followed by study questions and vocabulary.

Level 1 Article and Questions

Level 1 Article and Questions without space for notes

Activity 2

Approximate Teaching Time: 45 minutes
This activity asks students to create their own map of a sacred space to create a sense of empathy at the potential loss of such a space. This activity is also used in WA history and so is offered as an alternative to the article and study questions.

Sacred Space Mapping Activity


• Maps:
o (provided) 13 Colonies map
o (provided) Northeastern Tribal Homelands before Colonization map
o (provided) Current Northeastern Reservations Map
o your classroom map of Washington State or the United States
• (Optional) Find images that reflect the backgrounds of your classroom
population (images of children from their home countries, maps and
images from your own community)
• Read the corresponding issue of On Sovereignty
• knowledge of European settlement of North America
• Helpful, but not essential: The European ethnic groups living in the 13
US Colonies

Total time: Approx 45 minutes – 1 hour
1. (Optional)
a. Ask students to think about what homeland might mean. How is homeland different from home and how is homeland
different from land?
b. Show images you have gathered to help guide their emerging definition of homeland.
c. Display the class’s definition of homeland.
2. Recall how European colonists left their homelands for The New World.
3. Recall that Europeans discovered that their ‘New World’ was actually quite an old one, inhabited by millions of people for at least 12,000 years.
4. Announce that today you will be exploring a different definition of homeland. Most students’ families’ homelands (countries of origin) have a definite historical beginning or founding. The homelands you will be discussing today are ones whose inhabitants believe have been here since the beginning of time. 5. Read in round-robin style the accompanying On Sovereignty article. Stop periodically for clarification.
6. Stop when names of tribal homelands and Washington towns and cities are mentioned in the article. Identify them on your classroom map.
7. Stop to identify your city or town on the maps whenever appropriate. It helps to involve and engage your students
personally in the discussion when they see their physical place in the lesson.
8. In pairs, ask students to answer the corresponding questions. Correct them in class and encourage further discussion.
9. Homework or Extra Credit: Have students visit the website(s) of the tribe(s) in your area and write down the email address, telephone number, and address of at least one local tribe.
Local Connection: Arrange with your tribal liaison to have a guest speaker from a neighboring tribe talk about what was happening to his/her tribal region during this time or during Westward Expansion and the Treaty Era.

Level 2

Level 2

In addition to the goals of Level 1, it is important that
each student understands the responsibility that local
tribes have with the earth and the Creator; and



Students understand basic tribal sovereignty vocabulary through a teacher-led classroom discussion. Students then identify and trace and color a map of Northeastern tribal nations and the US Colonies.
Assessment: Students will accurately identify local and Northeaster tribal nations prior to 1776.

PDF Version of Full Lesson Plan

Activity 1

Approximate Teaching Time Level 2: 5, 55 minute class periods

Level 2 has students study images of historical events that impacted the sovereignty of tribal people during the American Revolution and its aftermath. Level 3 asks that these events be placed in a variety of conceptual (tribal and cyclical in nature) and conventional (linear and chronological) time lines. These activities are combined, because once the graphic organizers are created, the next activity–the completion of the Causes of Conflict CBA–seems to follow naturally as the way to culminate Level 2.



  • (provided) Vocabulary Activity Sheets and Vocabulary Key
  • Causes of Conflict CBA
  •  (optional) crayons, markers, or colored pencils
  • Computer with an LCD projector OR overhead projector and photocopied transparencies of the maps in the QuickTime movies (pdf files provided for ease in copying). If color copies cannot be made, color the maps with water-soluble or dry-erase transparency pens.

• (optional and provided) Outline maps of the 13 US Colonies and Tribal Regions
o Colonies with political boundaries
o Colonies without political boundaries
o Tribal regions before 1607

• Read the corresponding issue of On Sovereignty
• Pre-arrange students in pairs or groups of three.
• Access to GOIA website: Locate the tribe(s) in your geographic area. Use the tribal directory to find out the geographic size of the reservation (if applicable) and the population of the tribe(s). The tribal directory provides you with most tribes’ websites to obtain this information, as well as a brief history of the tribe. You might reproduce this information in a handout for your students or as a poster in your classroom.
• Photocopy for each student or student group:
o Vocabulary activity sheet
o Colonies Map
o NE Tribal Regions before Colonization
o NE Tribal Reservations Map

• knowledge of the establishment of 13 Colonies in North America
• understanding that the U.S. Constitution is the document that provides the structure for our government.
• Helpful, but not essential: The European ethnic groups living in the 13 US Colonies
Day 1 (about 30 minutes):
1. After students have become familiar with the political boundaries of the 13 US Colonies, project either the QuickTime movie of the 13 US Colonies or the transparencies of the maps you have created.
2. Ask students: “How many nations are on the Northeastern coast of North America?”
3. After students have guessed, answer: “59.” (13 US Colonies plus the 37 Indian nations that pre-date non-Indian colonization.)
4. Advance the QuickTime movie to superimpose the map of tribal regions in the Northeast.
5. Say: “Before anyone else step foot on this continent, there were more than 500 independent nations residing in what we call North America. In the Northeast alone, there were more than 37 nations who had occupied those lands since the beginning of time, according to tribal belief. Point out that most civilizations rely on the religious belief that their god not only created the land on which they live, but also created them and placed them on the land. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and other faiths of major cultures believe the same way. Indian nations are no different in their beliefs
6. Explain that students are going to learn about the Indian nations that were established long before the British formed the US Colonies. Remind them of the tribal boundaries and maps from the Pacific NW that they studied in 4th Grade.
7. Distribute the vocabulary sheets and explain that in order to study these nations alongside the US Colonies, they will need to know a few terms.
8. Divide students into pairs or groups of three.
9. Provide time for them to discuss their own definitions of the vocabulary terms.
10. As a class, share various definitions, then reveal the definition provided in the vocabulary key. Have students write them down.
11. Time remaining can be spent on the bonus activity (drawing a picture representing one of the terms and writing one or two sentences describing how it represents the term).

Day 2 (about 45 minutes):
1. Recall the definitions learned and the map activities of the previous lesson.
2. Announce that you will talk about tribal sovereignty and identify independent, sovereign Indian nations in the Northeastern area of North America.
3. Review the QuickTime movies of tribal homelands if needed. Remind students to view each of the tribal regions as independent countries, just like France, Spain, or England.
4. Note: The following activities can be completed by using a computer lab instead of photocopies of the maps. Have students load the Colonial and Northeastern tribal territories and reservations maps onto their desktops. Either insert the images onto a Word Document or other drawing program (like Adobe Illustrator). Proceed with the activities according to the functions of the drawing program.
5. Distribute the following maps to either individual students or groups from Day 1.
a. US Colonies Map
b. US NE Tribal Territory Map
6. Have students study the tribal regions maps. Note: These regions are approximate. If you ask different tribes, they often will have different ideas about where boundaries lie. Remember: there were no political boundaries, only those naturally occurring boundaries.
7. Ask them, “Why are the tribal boundaries most likely divided like they are?” Answers will focus on the naturally occurring boundaries in the region: rivers, mountains, bluffs, etc.
8. Then ask, “Where are the Northeastern tribes now?”
9. Project the tribal reservations map from the QuickTime movie. Have students locate the tribe(s) and in the tribal reservations map. Go back to the tribal regions map and copy the approximate size and location of the current reservation(s).
10. Ask, “Why do you think this happened? Where did they all go?” Answers might range from illness, wars, or students might know that Indian tribes relinquished much of their land to non-Indian settlement. State that many tribes either had to combine with others, move altogether, and give up much of their tribal land so that Indians and non-Indians could live beside each other in peace. These formal agreements are called treaties. Treaties affected tribes’ abilities to
make their own rules and live how they wanted. This ability is tribal sovereignty.
11. Ask, “How did this loss affect their ability to govern themselves? Their tribal sovereignty?
12. Note: Some tribal areas might have disappeared altogether. Because of tribes’ political history with the US Government, some tribes have lost their territories altogether. This would be a time to encourage
your students to investigate what happened to the tribe(s).
13. You can either read the information you gathered from the NE tribes’ websites or provide for each group a handout to read aloud.
14. End the day with reviewing what you learned about tribal sovereignty and NE tribal nations.
Local Connection: Spend a day researching the tribal websites of the tribes in your area (see the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs

Level 3

Level 3:

Approx. 40 minute class periods in addition to Levels 1 and 2
In addition to Levels 1 and 2, students will analyze/evaluate Essential Questions 1 and 2 and Guiding Questions 1 and 2 by completing the Causes of Conflict CBA.