March 26, 2008

If You Lived during the Trail of Tears Lesson Plan

For our third week of class Rhiannon really wanted to do a Native American tribe. She wanted to focus on the Nez Perce (because of Kaya,the American Girl doll)and I wanted to focus on the Cherokee and Trail of Tears. So we compromised and talked about Native American tribes in general with emphasis on different aspects of different tribes.

We began the class with some general talk time with facts about Native Americans. I used the Kaya doll, her horse,saddle, cradelboard and clothing along with other artifacts to describe some of Native American life. A member of our cooperative is part Cherokee and brought in a real Cherokee cermonial spear with eagle feathers and beading. My co-teacher held it up and talked about why Native Americans can have eagle feathers but no one else can. We did not allow the kids to touch the spear but they were all fascinated by it.

Next I gave a very brief overview of the time of the Cherokee and set up for the Trail of Tears. We gathered the students and their belongings: coats, backpacks, sweatshirts etc. We marched them through and outside the building taking away personal items as we went (making them just drop the items wherever we told them). I roughly walked them through the events and we made kids lay down (as if they died)and made them leave friends behind when they were sick. We started with 15 and only 4 made it back to the classroom. We gathered everyone together again and talked about the events and how it was like that during the trail of tears. I gave them a handout to add to their books (can be viewed at end of post).

Then we divided them into three groups and moved through four stations:

Design and Symbol Painting
Food and Props

Station 1 - Weaving
Using newspaper the kids will experience weaving. The goal of this station is for everyone to try it and understand a bit more about weaving - they will NOT have a take home project from this. The setup will be for one big weaving project that way the focus is on the experience of weaving and not trying to get everyone to finish a project. We taped newspaper strips to the table and then used other strips to show them how to weave. The teacher here talked about weaving baskets, showed some pictures from a book and was able to share a real story she had of someone weaving natural fibers for her family with them standing there.

Station 2 - Designs and Symbols

The second station will be an opportunity for the kids to draw Native American symbols. You will need brown construction paper , a brown paper roll, or the inside of paper bags. You need enough for each student to draw his or her hand and cut it out and I suppose some reserve for mistakes. After they cut it out they will be drawing a story using Native American symbols on their hand. We used a boook with different tribal symbols and talked about the importance of symbols to the culture.
After they finish their hand/stories they can cut them out and glue them in the book. I will also make up a handout of the Trail of Tears for them to glue in the book.

Station 3 - Stickball
Using lacrosse sticks and balls we will let the kids get a sense of what Native American stickball was like. As lacrosse sticks are very similar to a traditional stick ball game they played. This game was a hit with the kids and we did not even get to the second game which was:

You will need two small plastic plates - try rolling them on their side they should be able to run along a floor like ours for a bit. Then four sticks - roughly of equal lengths. Try to keep them on the smaller side - big enough to throw small enough to be safer. The game is played by one person rolling the plate and the others throwing their sticks to land where they think the plate will stop.

Station 4 - Food and Artifacts

We served cornbread dry and water. It was not their favorite snack so far. We talked about why they cooked with so much corn. The kids got to look at the clothes and artifacts. I also shared some pictures from various books of items that we did not have for them to actually see.

Trail of Tears Timeline(handout)

1830 Indian Removal Act: While Indian removal was, in theory, supposed to be voluntary, in practice great pressure was put on American Indian leaders to sign removal treaties. Most observers, whether they were in favor of the Indian removal policy or not, realized that the passage of the act meant the inevitable removal of most Indians from the states.

1835 Treaty of New Echota removal treaty of Cherokee nation in which United States agreed to pay the Cherokee people $5 million in compensation, cover the costs of relocation, and give them equivalent land in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma in exchange for all Cherokee land east of the Mississippi. Was never ratified officially by Cherokee nation

May Cherokee roundup begins May 23, 1838. Southeast suffers worst drought in recorded history.
June First group of Cherokees driven west under Federal guard. Further removal aborted because of drought and "sickly season."
July Over 13,000 Cherokees imprisoned in military stockades awaiting break in drought. Approximately 1500 die in confinement.
October For most Cherokee, the "Trail of Tears" begins.
December Last group leaves Cherokee homeland carrying the records and laws of the Cherokee Nation. 5000 Cherokees trapped east of the Mississippi by harsh winter; many die.

January First overland contingents arrive at Fort Gibson.
March Last group reaches Oklahoma. More than 3000 Cherokee die on Trail of Tears, 1600 in stockades and about the same number en route. 800 more die in 1839 in Oklahoma.
April Cherokees build houses, clear land, plant and begin to rebuild their nation.
May Western Cherokee invite new arrivals to meet to establish a united Cherokee government.
September Cherokee constitution adopted on September 6, 1839. Tahlequah established as capital of the Cherokee Nation.

1 comment:

  1. If school was like this when I went I would have enjoyed it much more. Great lessons and a wonderful way to give the children a sense of history

    Family Forever