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Colonialism Transforms Indian Life

By Nancy Mussetter
Standards: 4.1, 4.4, 4.10
Grade Level: Elementary
Topic: Explorers, Traders, and Settlers

Lesson Plan Text:

Introduction/Background:  Disease, warfare and colonization changed Wisconsin Indian societies greatly reducing them to fractions of what they were in size and influence.  Most tribes were changed from agricultural communities that engaged in seasonal hunting on the side to full-time trappers and hunters who traveled to harvest beaver and other animals for their pelts in order to use them for trade.

Lesson Objectives:  The student will¿
1. define vocabulary that shows changes that occurred  during colonization
2. read document that establishes rules of trade between Indians and outsiders
3. debate if Indian tribes were treated fairly by U.S. government in establishing trade laws.

Information/Resources:  Document:  Indian Trade: a report from the War Department --an 1818 War Department Report Describes early U.S. Fur Trade Policies.

Suggested Activities:
1. Introduction:  Play a game of Password* to introduce vocabulary that reflects changes that occurred during colonization.  Use the words:
    Agriculture    Hunting         Disease    War    Peace
    Rules            Civilization    Trade        License

2. Have students divide up into 2 teams of about 10 members each¿one team will look at the issue of how Indians were treated in regards to trade rules from the viewpoint of the Native Americans and the other team will look at the issue from the U.S. Government point of view.  One person on each team will be responsible for reading and taking notes on 1 page of the document An 1818 War Department Report Describes Early U.S. Trade Policies.    Students will be looking for ideas that support their stand.

3. Teams meet and set up strategy on the debate of how Indians were treated in regards to trade with the Europeans.

4. Debate the issue¿limit time for each oral argument to 45 to 60 seconds ensuring participation of more class members.


Debate-a formal contest of skill in a ¿reasonable argument¿ with two sides taking opposite sides of a specified question

Conclusion:  Give each student a piece of paper and ask them to answer the question:
Were Native Americans better or worse off when they were introduced to European ways that were more advanced technologically but that infringed on some of their age-old ways and traditions?

Assessment:  Debate¿Teacher evaluation of teamwork and participation in the debate
      Student evaluation of self and team

Additional Information:  *Directions for playing Password:
 Divide class into 2 teams.  One person from each team (contestants)  stands behind the teacher while teacher shows the remainder of the class a word that has been written on a piece of paper large enough for everyone to see.  Teams take turns giving one word clues to the contestants to try to get them to say the word that the teacher has showed them.  If the first contestant gets the word correct on the first clue that team scores 5 points and new contestants come up and a new word is shown to the remainder of the class.  If the first contestant does not say the correct word on the first clue someone from the opposite team gives a one word clue to see if the second contestant says the correct word by putting the two clues together.  If contestant 2 gets the word correct that team scores 4 points.  Play continues until 5 clues are given or one of the contestants says the correct word.

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