American Indian Removal
What Does It Mean to Remove a People?
This online lesson provides perspectives from Native American community members, documents, maps, images, and activities to help students and teachers understand an important and difficult chapter in the history both of Native Nations and the United States. Scroll to begin an exploration of the vast scope and effects of American Indian removal.
close
This online lesson provides perspectives from Native American community members, documents, maps, images, and activities to help students and teachers understand an important and difficult chapter in the history both of Native Nations and the United States. Scroll to begin an exploration of the vast scope and effects of American Indian removal.
Close

lesson
information

Grades:

7–12

Nations:

Cherokee, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Kickapoo, Muscogee, Potawatomi, Seminole, Shawnee

Subjects:

U.S. History, Civics, Geography

Keywords:

Removal, Indian Removal, American Indian Removal, Osceola, Andrew Jackson, Treaties, treaty, Trail of Tears, John Ross, Menominee, Catahecassa, Black Hoof

Regions:

East, Midwest, Southeast


Close

essential
understandings

Framework for Essential Understandings about American Indians
Building on the ten themes of the National Council for the Social Studies' national curriculum standards, NMAI's Essential Understandings reveal key concepts about the rich and diverse cultures, histories, and contemporary lives of Native peoples. Woven throughout the lesson, the following Essential Understandings provide a foundation for students to thoughtfully approach the complex story of American Indian removal.
This resource addresses the following Essential Understandings:
Essential Understanding 1:
American Indian Cultures

Interactions with Europeans and Americans brought accelerated and often devastating changes to American Indian cultures.

Essential Understanding 2:
Time, Continuity, and Change

American Indian history is not singular or timeless. American Indian cultures have always adapted and changed in response to environmental, economic, social, and other factors. American Indian cultures and people are fully engaged in the modern world.

Hearing and understanding American Indian history from Indian perspectives provides an important point of view to the discussions of history and cultures in the Americas. Indian perspectives expand the social, political, and economic dialogue.

Essential Understanding 3:
People, Places, and Environments

Throughout their histories, Native groups have relocated and successfully adapted to new places and environments.

Essential Understanding 5:
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

External educational, governmental, and religious institutions have exerted major influences on American Indian individuals, groups, and institutions. Native people have fought to counter these pressures and have adapted to them when necessary. Many Native institutions today are mixtures of Native and Western constructs, reflecting external influence and Native adaptation.

Essential Understanding 6:
Power, Authority, and Governance

A variety of political, economic, legal, military, and social policies were used by Europeans and Americans to remove and relocate American Indians and to destroy their cultures. U.S. policies regarding American Indians were the result of major national debate. Many of these policies had a devastating effect on established American Indian governing principles and systems. Other policies sought to strengthen and restore tribal self-government.

A variety of historical policy periods have had a major impact on American Indian peoples' abilities to self-govern.

Close

academic
standards

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (High School)–National Council for the Social Studies
I. Culture
Processes: Interpret patterns of behavior reflecting values and attitudes that contribute or pose obstacles to cross-cultural understanding.
II. Time, Continuity, and Change
Processes: Research and analyze past periods, events, and recurring issues using a variety of primary sources (e.g., documents, letters, artifacts, and testimony), as well as secondary sources.
III. People, Places, and Environments
Processes: Provide opportunities for learners to examine, interpret, and analyze interactions of human beings and their physical environments, and to observe and analyze social and economic effects of environmental changes, both positive and negative.
IX. Global Connections
Knowledge: Global connections may be of various types (e.g., cultural exchange, trade, political, economic, or travel).
National Geography Standards
Geography Standard 6:
How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.
1. People's different perceptions of places and regions are influenced by their life experiences.
2. Perceptions of places and regions change by incorporating multiple direct and indirect experiences.
Geography Standard 9:
The characteristics, distribution, and migration pattern of human populations on Earth's surface.
3. Migration: There are multiple causes and effects of migration.
Identify and describe examples of involuntary versus voluntary migrations. Identify and explain the role of push factors as reasons for migration.
Geography Standard 13:
How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of the Earth's surface.
2. Cooperation: Countries and organizations cooperate through treaties, laws, and agreements to manage resources, maintain the environment, and mediate disputes.
3. There are multiple sources of conflict resulting from the Earth's surface.
Conflicting territorial claims can erupt over resources, land use, and ethnic and national identities.
Geography Standard 17:
How to apply geography to interpret the past.
1. Using Geography to Interpret the Past: A historical event is influenced by the geographic context (human and physical characteristics of places and environments) in which it occurred.
3. Perceptions of Geographic Contexts: Historical events were influenced by people's perceptions of places, regions, and environments.
Explain how geographic perceptions impacted decisions of and actions by an individual, group or a nation (e.g.: the perception of land uses and its values leading to the creation and later dissolution of the Indian Territory in the United States)
Common Core State Standards
STAGE OF INQUIRY
FEATURED SOURCE
STANDARDS
Removal: Does It Make Sense?
Media Piece
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2
Opposing Perspectives
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6
Primary Source: Indian Removal Act of 1830 Map: Native Nations Removed West 1817–1858
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7
What Was the Muscogee Nation's Experience with Removal?
Interactive Case Study: Removal of the Muscogee Nation
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 CSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2
How Did Six Different Native Nations Try to Avoid Removal?
Interactive Narrative
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2
Six Case Studies: Strategies to Avoid Removal
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1
"To Remove a People Means"
Summative Task: Written Argument
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9
What Does "Removal" Look Like Today?
Two Contemporary Case Studies
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1
Extension Materials: Taking Informed Action
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1
College, Career & Civic Life–C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards
STAGE OF INQUIRY
FEATURED SOURCE
STANDARDS
Removal: Does It Make Sense?
Media Piece
D1.1.6-8
Opposing Perspectives
D2.His.4.6-8
Primary Source: Indian Removal Act of 1830 Map: Native Nations Removed West 1817–1858
D2.Civ.3.6-8 D2.Geo.6.6-8
What was the Muscogee Nation's Experience with Removal?
Interactive Case Study: Removal of the Muscogee Nation
D2.Civ.3.6-8 D2.Geo.6.6-8 D2.His.3.6-8 D3.1.6-8
How Did Six Different Native Nations Try to Avoid Removal?
Interactive Narrative
D2.Civ.3.6-8 D2.Geo.6.6-8 D2.His.3.6-8
Six Case Studies: Strategies to Avoid Removal
D2.Civ.3.6-8 D2.Geo.6.6-8 D2.His.1.6-8 D2.His.3.6-8 D2.His.4.6-8 D2.His.16.6-8 D3.1.6-8 D3.3.6-8 D3.4.6-8
"To Remove a People Means"
Summative Task: Written Argument
D2.His.16.6-8 D4.1.6-8 D4.2.6-8
What Does "Removal" Look Like Today?
Two Contemporary Case Studies
D4.1.6-8 D4.2.6-8 D4.6.6-8
Extension Materials: Taking Informed Action
D2.Civ.7.6-8 D4.6.6-8
Down
Removal: Does It Make Sense?
Open Close Instructions
Find out what people say about removal: hear from students, read a historian's viewpoint, and interpret quotes from two nineteenth-century leaders. Explore a map to see how many Native Nations were impacted.
Close
Close
Close
Close
up down
What was the Muscogee Nation's
Experience with Removal?
Open Close Instructions
Follow the removal story of one Native Nation. Learn how Muscogee people were affected before, during, and after removal.

VIEW THE STORY
up down
How Did Six Different Native
Nations Try to Avoid Removal?
Open CloseInstructions
Learn about the strategies American Indian leaders used in their attempts to keep their homelands. Scroll through the interactive and examine the sources that tell these stories.

VIEW THE STORIES
up down
Reflecting on Removal
open close Instructions
What do you think? What does it mean to remove a people? Create an evidence kit by selecting up to five sources that support your argument.

CREATE EVIDENCE KIT
up down
What Does "Removal" Look Like Today?
open close Instructions
Explore two case studies about contemporary people and the challenges they face to remain in their homelands.
up down
NK 360 logo