Westward Expansion

  • Affirming Indigenous Sovereignty: A Civics Inquiry by Sarah B. Shear, Leilani Sabzalian, & Lisa Brown Buchanan for Social Studies & the Young Learner
    Historical and contemporary examples of infringements on the sovereign rights of Native nations exist, in part, due to the disregard of tribal sovereignty, nationhood, and citizenship. In this article, researchers outline a four-part unit that incorporates academic keywords, provides a foundation for understanding Indigenous sovereignty, and deliberates current events related to sovereignty.
  • American Indians in Children’s Literature by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza
    Established in 2006 by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo, this blog provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books.
  • An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
    Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.
  • Black Indians and Black Pioneers by William Loren Katz
    For many African Americans, the frontier meant freedom, and from the earliest times, some seized liberty by joining Indian nations. These books detail the lives and experiences of African Americans in "the West."
  • Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building by Richard Drinnon
    This book links racism with colonialism and traces this interrelationship from the Pequot War in New England, through American expansion westward to the Pacific, and beyond to the Philippines and Vietnam. He cites parallels between the slaughter of bison on the Great Plains and the defoliation of Vietnam and notes similarities in the language of aggression used in the American West, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia.
  • Indian Removal by Gayle Olson-Raimer for the Zinn Education Project
    This teaching activity introduces students to the many ways Native people resisted European encroachment. While none of these efforts stopped the tide of Indian Removal, no actions of the settlers could fully silence or stem the power and eloquence of Indian resistance.
  • The Mission Project: Teaching History and Avoiding the Past in California Elementary Schools by Harper Keenan for Harvard Education Review (pre-publication version)
    This case study examines a fourth-grade unit on the colonial history of California featuring “the mission project,” a long-standing tradition in California’s elementary schools that has students construct a miniature model of a Spanish colonial mission. The paper explores how the use of model making invites children to engage with colonial history and what the assignment reveals about how adults teach children about the violent past. Keenan argues that the mission project perpetuates a societal pattern of “ritual avoidance."
  • Native Knowledge 360 from the National Museum of the American Indian
    NK360° provides educational materials, virtual student programs, and teacher training that incorporate Native narratives, more comprehensive histories, and accurate information to enlighten and inform teaching and learning about Native America. NK360° challenges common assumptions about Native peoples and offers a view that includes not only the past but also the vibrancy of Native peoples and cultures today.
  • “Now You Just Can’t Do Nothing”: Unsettling the Settler Self in Social Studies Education by Christine Stanton for Social Education
    When it comes to confronting settler colonialism within our schools, curriculum, and lives, all teachers have agency—and responsibility. The author of this essay is a white woman who details how her past, present, and future have been, are, and will continue to be influenced by settler actions and identities. Confronting this reality, she can throw my hands up and say “But that happened so long ago, there is nothing I can do about it now,” or she can learn from/with Indigenous mentors and do something to change how I teach about Indigenous experiences.
  • The Old Durham Road Black Pioneer Settlement: Contested Place As An Invitation to Curriculum by Naomi Norquay & Pariss Garramone for Journal for the Association of Canadian Curriculum Studies
    In this essay, researchers outline the recorded history of the Old Durham Road and share data from an oral history project1 to examine competing versions of that history to explore how the concept of place worked to support the pre-eminence of the White pioneer narrative within the stories of settlement. THey end with an example of how they made space in the local elementary school’s social studies curriculum for this contested history and how, through a class composition, stories about the area’s Black pioneer settlers were re-placed.
  • Recovering the Voice of Native Americans in the Classroom from Teaching While White Podcast
    This episode is an interview with Native teacher Claudia Fox Tree about what students learn (or don't) about Native Americans in U.S. schools.
  • Searching for the Gold Mountain from the Library of Congress Immigration & Relocation in U.S. History
    Part of a bigger archives of primary source sets for teachers, this bundle of resources focuses on Chinese immigrants who worked on the Transcontinental Railroad.
  • Silencing California Indian Genocide in Social Studies Texts by Clifford E. Trazer & Michelle Lorimer for American Behavioral Scientist
    During the 1850s and 1860s, white settlers perpetrated genocide against California Indians. Militia and regular troops supported by the state and federal governments committed acts of genocide as defined by the United Nations including murders, rapes, kidnappings, and enslavement of California Indians during the Gold Rush era. This article examine the silences around these histories in educational resources.
  • Teaching Critically About Lewis and Clark: Challenging Dominant Narratives in K-12 Curriculum by Alison Schmitke, Leilani Sabzalian, & Jeff Edmundson
    The Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery is often presented as an exciting adventure story of discovery, friendship, and patriotism. However, this same period in U.S. history can be understood quite differently when viewed through an anticolonial lens and the Doctrine of Discovery. How might educators critically interrogate the assumptions that underlie this adventure story through their teaching? This book challenges dominant narratives and packaged curriculum about Lewis and Clark to support more responsible social studies instruction.
  • They Did Not Stop To Wipe Their Foreheads! Using the C3 Framework to Critique Arguments in History Texts by Jay M. Shuttleworth & Amy Mungur for the Georgia Social Studies Journal
    This paper explains a procedure for analyzing claims in history textbooks using the case of Chinese laborers’ qualifications to work on the transcontinental railroad.
  • This Land hosted by Rebecca Nagle
    This podcast hosted by a member of the Cherokee Nation examines a recent Supreme Court decision that determined the future of five tribes and nearly half the land in Oklahoma starting with a murder on the side of the road in 1999.
  • The Time Is Now: Taking Initiative for Indigenous Studies in Elementary Curriculum by Leilani Sabzalian, Riya Miyamoto-Sundahl, & Robin Fong
    In this article, authors describe how two 4th grade educators and a teacher education professor collaborated to rethink and revise a social studies curriculum unit, illustrating the small, but important, changes teachers can make to more responsibly implement Indigenous studies curriculum.
  • What Can the Transcontinental Railroad Teach Us About Anti-Asian Racism? by Ray Rogers for National Geographic
    This essay reflects on how Chinese immigrants helped achieve one of the greatest engineering feats in U.S. history, but their sacrifices are seldom remembered.
  • Who Gets to Die of Dysentary? Ideology, Geography, and the Oregon Trail by Katharine Slater for Children’s Literature Association Quarterly
    In this article, which looks primarily at the 1985, 1992, and 2002 editions of The Oregon Trail, the author examines the game’s interrelated ideology and geography, arguing that it reinforces its colonialist worldview through representations of place, space, and time.