Varied views on indian removal

Students will write a Political Editorial based on their reading of a variety of viewpoints on Indian Removal. They will use their knowledge of Perspective and Context to do so.

Historical Background

Throughout the colonial and post-colonial period in American history, colonists had a negative relationship with the Native Americans. This was based on the conflict over territory as the new settlers felt more and more entitled to the land for various purposes. This was strengthened by events such as the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812 and the increasing goals of Manifest Destiny. By the late 1820s, early 1830s, there was an increasing need to get the land occupied by Native Americans into white American hands.

When it came time to do this, however, there were mixed opinions. The two sides studied by most people are that of the American government and that of the Native Americans. The goal is for students to examine not only those views but also the views of the Christian missionaries seeking to civilize and assimilate native tribes, not remove them. And even those of American citizens who saw the inherent wrong in removing people from their land and violating their unalienable right to life, liberty and property. This is the debate that will be examined in the lesson.

Lesson Objective

Students will be able to analyze documents for perspective and context in order to create and editorial at the time detailing an opinion about Native American Removal.



  1. Day 1 (90 Minutes)
  2. Set Up: Before students enter the room, tape four sheets of chart paper to one wall, and another four on the opposite wall.
  3. Activating Prior Knowledge: Hand out the “Indian Removal Activities” sheet. Have students list events about Indian/American relationships that they already are knowledgeable about at the top of their papers, in the warm up section. Answers may include French and Indian War, Battle of Fallen Timbers, Jefferson’s letter to William Henry Harrison (if they’ve read it already,) Battle of Tippecanoe, War of 1812.
  4. Creating a Hypothesis: Students will choose a persona and write a one paragraph editorial from that perspective. Although they have not formally studied the perspective of this person, they should use the events listed above and their background knowledge of the goals of this character to write a clear perspective.
  5. Contrasting Perspectives: Students will analyze documents for perspective. Explain to students that different groups had different reasons to support or oppose Indian Removal. Point to one set of chart paper, and explain these will be the reasons to support Indian Removal. The opposite side of the wall represents reasons to oppose Indian Removal. Students will find these reasons and find quotes from different people who felt this way. This is a categorization exercise, so reasons should be very general. For Example: Indians needed to be Civilized.
  6. Analyzing Documents: Pass out one of the documents to each student. Documents may either be passed out randomly or differentiated for reading ability. Students will read the document; determine the speaker and the speaker’s perspective. They will then find one quote that exemplifies this perspective. They will write the quote and the speaker on a sticky note. They then take their sticky note to the side of the room consistent with the reading’s perspective: for or against. If the broad reason being expressed is already up, they may add their note to the wall. If it is not, they may take a marker and add it to a blank piece of chart paper
  7. Multiple Documents: Students will do this for 3 or 4 documents depending on length and reading ability. Give them about 30 minutes.
  8. Corroboration: Hand out Perspectives Chart. Have students rotate through the pieces of chart paper, noting which people subscribed to those reasons and adding at least one quote to their chart. Give 3 minutes per station to encourage focused reading/copying.
  9. Exit Question: Students will announce whether they found the views of the documents consistent with their character or not and explain whether they were surprised by anything they read. (Verbal Discussion) If students do not bring it up, prompt them about the Native Americans, and if they were all against removal- or if all white Americans were in favor of.
  10. Homework: Students will analyze one of the sources that they did not look at in class (their choice.) and add it to their perspectives chart.
  11. Day 2 (90 minutes)
  12. Activating Prior Knowledge: Students will list elements of a well written editorial. Sample Answers: Opinion, evidence, strong language, introduction and conclusion.
  13. Revise Editorial: Students will re-write their one paragraph editorial, using the perspective they have learned from the rotation. They must use reasons consistent the perspective of people similar to their character (for example, if they are writing from the perspective of a Northern woman, they would look at Catherine Beecher and the ladies’ petition.) They may also use quotes to support their point, or ideas from the chart paper.
  14. Peer Editing: Students will peer edit each other’s editorial. They will be using the checklist, but also looking at document use and how they interpreted the perspective of each document. This is aiming to build an environment of positive feedback they can use when they write formal DBQs. Students will do so with their peers that argued something different than their own work to again gain different perspectives. For example, if they took the perspective of a soldier on the border, they should look at the view of a politician or a women’s rights activist.
  15. Final Draft: Students will make the final revisions to their paragraphs using their peer feedback and the rubrics. (This may run over, feel free to give another class period or have them finish it for homework.)
  16. Exit Card: Students will fill out a reflection about the activity, using their knowledge of historical thinking skills and the DBQ process to compare the lesson over the past two days and reflect on their success
  17. Secondary Source Homework: Students will read a few chapters of Joy Hakim’s Story of Us, in order to gain a bigger picture of Indian Removal and reflect on the choices made by secondary source authors.


Homework on the first day will include one of the Document Analysis Charts to assess how well they can complete the chart on their own. Homework on the second day uses reading and questions to extend the lesson to a bigger picture and uses of secondary sources.


The assessment is the final draft of the editorial.


This is an advanced class, but there are different levels of advanced. This lesson can be differentiated by reading level and allows students to work with their peers to gain a deeper understanding of the material- bringing together different strengths in document analysis.


Perdue, Theda and Green, Michael D., The Cherokee Removal: A Brief History with Documents. Bedford/St Martins 1994

    Documents included in this source are:

  • Sally M. Reece, A letter to Reverend Daniel Campbell
  • Jeremiah Evarts, A brief overview of ….
  • Catherine Beecher, Circular Addressed to the Benevolent Ladies
  • Lewis Cass Removal of the Indians

Lumpkin, Wilson, The Removal of the Cherokee Indians from Georgia, New York: Arno Press, 1969

North Carolina Digital History;

    Documents from this Source are:

  • Birthday Story of Private John D. Burnett
  • “We have unexpectedly become Civilized”

Treaty with the Cerokee, 1835, as found at Indian AFfairs: Laws and Treaties, Oklahoma State University Library Electronic Publishing Center.

Thurman Wilkins, Cherokee Tragedy: The Story of the Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People (New York: Macmillan, 1970),

Hakim, Joy, Liberty for All? 1820-1860; History of Us Book 5 Oxford University Press, 2007

Other documents come from the MCPS curriculum archive, although they may be edited.

  • Excerpt from letter to William Henry Harrison
  • Tecumseh “Sleep no longer, O Choctaw and Chickasaw”
  • Excerpt from Indian Removal Act of 1830
  • Worcester v. Georgia
  • Excerpt from Memorial and Protest of a Cherokee Nation.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>