This land is my land, that land is your land!

Author: Sara Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 1 Class Periods
Photocopy Handout 1

Handout 1 – Descriptor sheets
Handout 1 Key


This Engage lesson begins an exploration of the Native American migrant experience in the United States.

Purpose: The first purpose is to encourage students to create their own definition of reservations and the reservation system by challenging them to identify their prior knowledge of the U.S. Government and Indian relationships. The second purpose of this lesson is to set the groundwork for researching a varied number of Native American migration experiences in the newly created United States.

Students will be able to:
i. Define and describe reservation and the relationship between the U.S. Government and Native tribes through individual textbook research and class discussion.

National Council for History in the Schools
Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 4B: Obtain historical data.

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.

Teacher Background
See websites below

Resource Websites

Indian Reservation History: http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/tribes/reservations/rezhistory.htm
American Indians: http://www.usdoj.gov/kidspage/crt/indian.htm
The First People of America; History of Native American Tribes:  http://www.nativeamericans.com/
NativeWeb: http://www.nativeweb.org/
National Museum of the Native American Indian: http://www.nmai.si.edu/



1. Give each student a copy of Handout 1. Have them follow instructions to carefully read each word or phrase and circle as many words as they think represent the U.S. Government and Indian relationship in history. When done, have them turn in their sheets. The sheets will be returned at the end of this learning cycle when they will be asked to address what they circled. (Make sure their names are on their sheets.)

2. Pose the following question:

How many of you chose Reservations on your list of descriptors? Why?

3. Discuss with class. On the board or overhead write down their ideas ensuring students understand what a reservation is. Point out any misconceptions they may have.

4. When done with the word cluster, have students look in their textbook for a definition to help clarify the term. Have them look up the word in the dictionary and define how the relationship between the U.S. Government and the Native American tribes is described.  They must address:

  • How the Constitution defines the relationship.
  • Why the Nations are sovereign states.
  • What sovereignty signifies in their relationship to the state where they reside.
  • What political functions the reservations hold.
  • How many are in the U.S. today?
  • If possible, the earliest date for a reservation (1786).
5. When done researching, discuss and agree on a shared definition and description.

6. Ask this follow-up question: Were Native Americans forced to move into designated lands like reservations? Discuss.

If applicable

Embedded Assessment
Prior knowledge through Word Descriptor handout can be assessed.

Participation in discussion can be assessed.

Notes on Reservation definition and description research can be assessed.


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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