Policies Towards American Indians


U.S. History Gilded Age Policies Towards American Indians
Students learn about the impact of the western expansion of white settlers onto American Indian land. They examine U.S. policies toward American Indians, including the Dawes Act and the Carlisle Indian School. Finally, students develop their own policy towards the American Indians in the historical context of western expansion.

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Overview

In this experience, students learn about the impact of the western expansion of white settlers onto American Indian land. They examine U.S. policies toward American Indians, including the Dawes Act and the Carlisle Indian School. Finally, students develop their own policy towards the American Indians in the historical context of western expansion.

Objectives

  • Describe the impact of the Dawes Act on American Indians.
  • Analyze the U.S. policy of assimilation towards American Indians.


Following the Civil War, the U.S. government began to change its policy toward American Indians. 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

  • Describe the impact of the Dawes Act on American Indians.
  • Analyze the U.S. policy of assimilation towards American Indians.




Sitting Bull, 1884


If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans; in my heart he put other and different desires. Each man is good in the sight of the Great Spirit. It is not necessary, that eagles should be crows.

— Sitting Bull (Teton Sioux)


State the main idea of this quote from the Sioux chief Sitting Bull.

Post your answer

Students should state that Sitting Bull is supporting diversity; not all people or all cultures need to be alike, but they should all be respected.


As a result of the Homestead Act and the transcontinental railroad, westward expansion of the United States increased rapidly. In order to accommodate the white settlers, the government forced American Indian tribes to relocate to other land, pushing them farther and farther west. As American Indians fought to protect their land, the U.S. government responded with military actions forcing them onto reservations. Over time it became too costly, financially and morally, to continue to force the American Indians off their land, so the United States changed its policy from removal to assimilation


If you are familiar with the word assimilation, write a definition of it.



Discuss with students the definition of assimilation: the process whereby a minority group adopts the values and customs of the surrounding culture.

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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