Kimberly de Berzunza
Longfellow Spanish Immersion Magnet School
5055 July St
San Diego, CA 92110
Language Arts/Reading in the Content Area: close reading, document analysis, synthesis of multiple texts
In this lesson students will compare two letters written by President Thomas Jefferson around the same time, specifically addressing the issue of acquisition of Native lands by white settlers. Students will consider the message and audience of each letter and try to come to a consensus on Jefferson's true motives regarding the land and the treatment of the Indians.
This lesson can stand alone, or it can be the second in a series of lessons where students will come to know Jefferson's ideas and policies toward American Indians,* and how this laid the groundwork for Indian Removal and ongoing Resettlement and "Civilization" programs. Ideally it will follow lessons on Englightenment ideals and how they were embodied by Jefferson, but this is not absolutely necessary for this lesson. It also may be followed by additional background material from secondary sources (provided) on Jefferson's attitudes and policies toward American Indians, but again, this is not absolutely necessary for the lesson itself to be worthwhile.
*I usually use the terms "American Indians" or "Indians" instead of "Native Americans," because they are most recently the preferred terminology. In fact, my Indian friends have told me that they prefer "Indian" unless you can name the tribe, in which case that is the best option.
Students should have at least a basic backround knowledge of Thomas Jefferson as author of the Declaration of Independence, colonial governor, statesman, and President, during which time he was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition. They should also have at least a general understanding of issues of Native Territory loss and conflict with white settlers since the beginning of the Colonial period, and hopefully, some knowledge of various treaties made with the Indians over the years, as well as the effects of the Treaty of Paris of 1763 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 on Indian land use and ownership.
California Standards for History/Social Science:
Common Core Standards:
Give students 5 minutes to write about the following prompt. (Alternative: have students discuss with a partner.)
Think about what you know already about Thomas Jefferson and his attitudes toward American Indians. Based on this knowledge, what kind of policies do you think he made regarding the Indians and the lands in the West? Why do you think this?
After students have written/discussed, invite a few to share out their thinking. Be sure to ask them to provide rationale for their thoughts.
Introduction/Instructions: Tell students, Today you will read two letters written by President Jefferson regarding his policy toward the Indians and their land. You and your partner will compare the language and message in the two letters, and then consider two questions:
Background: Handsome Lake was a Seneca Indian, which was part of the Iroquois nation.The Iroquois mostlysupported the British during the War for Independence. During the War, General Washington had ordered the destruction of 40 Indian villages, crops, food stores, and fruit trees. Many Iroquois fled to Canada, but those who remained lost the majority of their land.Submerged in poverty and depression, many became alcoholics, which in turn made them poorer and more dependent. Handsome Lake quit drinking and prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol among the Indians where he lived. President Jefferson respected this decision, and thought he could negotiate with this Indian, whom he believed to be more reasonable than others.
William Henry Harrison was a member of the Army and an aide to General Wayne during the Battle of Fallen Timbers. He was governor of the Indiana Territory, and Indian Commissionerunder President Jefferson. Jefferson gave Harrison the assignment of the acquisition of Indian lands, by any means, promoting peace but authorizing the use of force. Harrison was amazingly successful at his job.
have students log onto computers to read the documents online. In the latter case, it's easiest if one student opens the document they arereadingtogether and the other student opens thegraphic organizerand types the responses. Here they will need to save it as their own document and upload it or print it for the teacher.
Students should practice sourcing and close-reading as they read each document, analyze the author's purpose and language use, and complete the graphic organizer. It is a good idea to highlight and/or take notes in the margins.
If some students finish earlier than others, have them write a synthesis paragraph (independently or in partners) to explain their interpretation of Jefferson's opinions regarding the Indians.
Synthesis/Summary: Bring the students back as a whole group to discuss their findings. So what did Jefferson really think about the Indians? How do you know?What did Jefferson really want for and from the Indians?
Students are likely to have similar responses, butmust back up their response with concrete evidence from the texts. Encourage discussion.
You may wish to collect in-class work at end of lesson, or have them take it to help them write a paragraph titled, "President's Jefferson's Indian Policies".
Print two letters linked above, or have students access.
Complete transcriptions can be found below:
Jefferson, Thomas. "Jefferson's Letter to Brother Handsome Lake."Jefferson's Indian Addresses. Avalon Project/Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Library, 2008. Web. 29 July 2013. Originally written November 3, 1802. Washington, D.C.
Jefferson, Thomas. "President Thomas Jefferson to William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, 1803."Digital History. Digital History, n.d. Web. 29 July 2013.
Teacher computer with internet to access document linked above, printer, copier; OR
Individual or shared student computers with internet
(Optional) Students usecompleted graphic organizer to write paragraphtitled, "Jefferson's Indian Policies". NOTE: If partners only completed one copy of the graphic organizer, one will need to to send it to the other for use in writing the paragraph.
Option 1: Completed graphic organizer with individual paragraph completed as homework.
Option 2: Students write indepedent paragraph, "President Jefferson's Indian Policies"the next day in class.
A proficient paragraph will:
An ADVANCED paragraph will include allof the above, AND:
The following accomodations may help struggling students:
1. Pair a struggling reader or English Learner with a stronger reader.
2. Have a stronger reader read text aloud to struggling reader.
3. Provide extended time by giving documents to struggling student in advance, or accepting work later.
4. Accept less writing, but require highlighting/note-taking and a shorter synthesis paragraph.
If you have a class of many struggling students, or if this is the first time they have done this type of assignment, read and analyze the first document together as a whole class to model the work for them. (You may have to do more than one, depending on the class.)
If this seems accessible, but too long, jigsaw the readings in a way that each set of partners analyze onlyone of the texts, then re-mix the class so different partners can share their responses.
Encourage advanced learners to dig deeper:
1. Have students write a longer, more formal synthesis of their findings, and include their own opinion or reaction to their findings. (Were they surprised? Why or why not?)
2. Have students use the Internet to research this topic further and share new findings.