Failed Promises for Native Americans


US History Reconstruction Era and the Western Frontier Failed Promises for Native Americans
Students learn about the shift in the U.S. government policy toward Native Americans—from a military approach to one of assimilation. The experience focuses on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and the Dawes Act. Students choose one of these and explore the issue from the perspectives of both the Native Americans and the U.S. government.

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Here are the teacher pack items for Failed Promises for Native Americans:

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Overview

In this experience, students learn about the shift in the U.S. government policy toward Native Americans—from a military approach to one of assimilation. The experience focuses on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and the Dawes Act of 1887. Students choose one of these options and explore the issue from the perspectives of both the Native Americans and the U.S. government.

Objectives:

  • Summarize promises made to Native Americans.
  • Identify why reforms in favor of Native Americans failed.


Following the Civil War, the U.S. government began to change its policy toward Native Americans. Instead of fighting them, the government decided to absorb them into general American society. In this experience, you will learn more about this new policy and its outcome.

Objectives:

  • Summarize promises made to Native Americans.
  • Identify why reforms in favor of Native Americans failed.

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School functioned in Carlisle, Pennsylvania from 1879 to 1918. Study the “before” and “after” photographs below.




Chiracahua Apaches Arriving at the Carlisle Indian School




Chiracahua Apache Indians after Training at the Carlisle Indian School


Using short phrases, name at least two things that are different in the two photographs. Separate the items with a comma, like this: rainy, sunny.

Post your answer

Students should notice the difference in clothing, hairstyle, footwear, and general demeanor.

Discuss with students the definition and policy of assimilation:

  • definition: The process whereby a minority group adopts the values and customs of the surrounding culture.
  • assimilation policy: The goal of the assimilation policy was to “civilize” Native Americans by replacing their traditional cultures with the values and customs of the white European settlers.
If your class includes students whose families have immigrated to the United States in the past generation, you can conduct a discussion about assimilation in general, enabling the students to share their own stories and perspectives.


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The Complete List of Learning Experiences in Reconstruction Era and the Western Frontier Unit.
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