This lesson plan adheres to New York State Learning Standard 1 – History of the United States and New York, Elementary Level, Key Idea #3. Additionally, this lesson plan corresponds with the National Social Studies Curriculum Standards thematic strands of culture and identity.
Display images of the American West to students. Ask students where and when the photographs were taken. Encourage students to study the photographs carefully for clues.
Students will be able to analyze primary sources (photographs) for evidence of Native American culture and construct a cultural symbol.
Westward expansion created a cultural crisis for displaced Native Americans. Some Native Americans preserved their culture while others experienced cultural diffusion. This lesson focuses on cultural diffusion.
Essential Information - By the 1840s scattered groups of Native Americans lived in the Eastern United States. The majority of Native Americans lived on land West of the Mississippi. The California gold rush, transcontinental railroad, and availability of farmland spurred Americans to settle in these Native American lands. Native Americans fought back and were forced to sign treaties that moved their population onto reservations.
Activities - After student discussion of the American West photographs show students an American flag. Explain what the stars and stripes stand for, (that they are symbolic of the original colonies and the number of states). Utilizing the American West images for reference, instruct students to design a flag symbolic of Native American cultural diffusion.
Strategies - This lesson is designed to allow students to work as partners, in groups, or alone depending on group size and skill level.
School colors, mascots, flags, state flags, etc. may also be used to model what a symbol is.
CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING
Students present their flags to class, explaining why they used the symbols they chose and which American West images they focused on.
Monitor student work answering questions throughout.
Display flags as a class.