Forced to Move in More Ways than One

Author: Sara Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 6 Class Periods

Photocopy group sets of Handout 1.
Photocopy Handouts 2 and 3 for 1/3 the class size


Handout 1 – Outlines for research
Handout 2 – Removal act notes
Handout 3 – Dawes Act notes
Overhead 1 – Venn diagram


This lesson introduces students to three episodes of Native American movement:

  • The first is the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
  • The second is the Dawes Act of 1887.
  • The third is the Indian Boarding Schools beginning in 1879.

Students will Explore and Explain these moments in history through group research culminating in project poster using a Venn diagram.

Purpose - For students to explore the differences between these episodes of movement to identify if forced migration played a role in any of them.

Students will be able to:
Identify reasons for a particular episode of Indian movement by conducting individual research and writing a report.
Create a Venn diagram using group research materials.

National Council for History in the Schools:
Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 2A: Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage.
  • Standard 2D: Evidence historical perspectives.
  • Standard 3J: Hypothesize the influence of the past.
  • Standard 4B: Obtain historical data.
  • Standard 4C: Interrogate historical data.
  • Standard 5A: Identify issues and problems in the past.
  • Standard 5E: Formulate a position or course of action on an issue.

United States History Standards

  •  Era 4 Standard 1: United States territorial expansion between 1801 and 1861, and how it affected relations with external powers and Native Americans.
  • Era 6 Standard 2: Massive immigration after 1870 and how new social patterns, conflicts, and ideas of national unity developed amid growing cultural diversity.
  • Era 6 Standard 4: Federal Indian policy and United States foreign  policy after the Civil War.

Teacher Background
Teacher is recommended to review their understanding of the Indian Removal Act, the Dawes Act, and Indian Reservation systems in the late 1800s. 

Resource Websites

Indian Removal Act: http://www.civics-online.org/library/formatted/texts/indian_act.html
Indian removal 1814 - 1858: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2959.html
Andrew Jackson Speaks: Indian Removal http://www.synaptic.bc.ca/ejournal/jackson.htm
Refer to Part III only of this site: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/native_voices/native_voices.cfm.
Treaty with the Cherokee, 1791Treaty of Holston: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/ntreaty/chr1791.htm
Treat with the Choctaw, 1830:Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek: http://www.peaknet.net/~aardvark/treaty.html

Dawes Act

Boarding Schools



Day 1
Begin by writing the question from the previous day:

  • Were Native Americans forced to move into designated lands like reservations? Discuss.

2. Students will explore this idea by conducting investigative research into three different incidents of U.S. Government policy that led to Native people being moved around to other locales as well as within their own reservations.

3. Introduce the three Government policies to be investigated:

  • The Indian Removal Act of 1830
  • The Dawes Act of 1887
  • The Indian Boarding School Experiment beginning in 1879

4. Put students into groups of three. Each student will investigate one of the topics. They will compile a list of information for their policy. Handout 1 outlines the information they are responsible for with hyperlinks to search for information.

5. Before conducting internet research they will look in their textbooks for topic resources.

Day 2-3
6. Internet research – One day should be sufficient.

7. When done with research each student must type a report communicating their findings. (one day)

Day 4
8. Ask students to share their interpretations of the three topics. Begin by asking the students who conducted research on the Removal Act what their answer was to the last research question: Was this a forced movement or migration episode? Explain.

9. Repeat with students who researched the Dawes Act.

10. Repeat with students whp researched the Boarding School Experiment. On the board or overhead list the student opinions and reasons.

Day 5
Students will now meet with their group and share compiled information from their notes. They will put together a Venn diagram spotlighting the three research topics. Display Overhead 1 with the example they will follow in their Venn diagram.

12. The Venn diagram will be created on larger sheets of paper to be displayed in the room.

Day 6
Follow-up discussion: Using the Venn diagrams hold a discussion addressing similarities and differences of all three incidents. Try to arrive at a class consensus if there are differing opinions by having groups defend their answers. Included in their notes should be the following terms:

  • Assimilation
  • Relocation
  • Forced
  • Land takeovers
  • Government policies

If applicable

Embedded Assessment
Individual reports can be assessed for content and accuracy.

The Venn diagrams can be assessed for completion and content.

Oral discussions can be assessed through student participation.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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