Practicing the DBQ: APUSH “Changing Policy Towards American Indians and Jefferson’s Role”

Lesson Plan

Title: Practicing the DBQ: APUSH “Changing Policy Towards American Indians and Jefferson’s Role”

Descriptive Subtitle: Jefferson’s Involvement in Indian Policy, Practicing Historical Skills for APUSH, and Practicing the Document Based Question

Grade Level: High School (10 and 11)

Topic/Subject: AP US History (Can be modified for all levels)

Author Information

Andrea Clark


Rich South High School

Address 5000 Sauk Trail

Richton Park


Duration: 1-3 class periods, depending on use

Overview: This lesson will specifically cover a Document Based Question covering Thomas Jefferson’s views of Native Americans and connecting it to the American government Indian Policy.  The focus is to assist AP US History students in preparing for the DBQ and practice document analysis, but this lesson can be modified and used for any level.  Several extension activities are available to help teach students or reinforce the concepts of document analysis.

Prior Knowledge: Jefferson’s overall ideas on liberty, Jefferson’s ideas towards Native Americans, Native American policies towards Americans and the American government, document analysis, government treatment of Native Americans

Standards: AP US History: Standards from Periods 3 and 4

The competition among the British, French, and American Indians for economic and political advantage in North America culminated in the Seven Years’ War (the French and Indian War), in which Britain defeated France and allied American Indians.

  1. Colonial rivalry intensified between Britain and France in the mid-18th century, as the growing population of the British colonies expanded into the interior of North America, threatening French– Indian trade networks and American Indian autonomy.
  1. After the British victory, imperial officials’ attempts to prevent colonists from moving westward generated colonial opposition, while native groups sought to both continue trading with Europeans and resist the encroachments of colonists on tribal lands.
  1. The ideals that inspired the revolutionary cause new beliefs about politics, religion, and society that had been developing over the course of the 18th century.

E The American Revolution and the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence reverberated in France, Haiti, and Latin America, inspiring future independence movements.

Key Concept 4.3 — The U.S. interest in increasing foreign trade and expanding its national borders shaped the nation’s foreign policy and spurred government and private initiatives.

  1. Struggling to create an independent global presence, the United States sought to claim territory throughout the North American continent and promote foreign trade.
  1. Following the Louisiana Purchase, the United States government sought influence and control over North America and the Western Hemisphere through a variety of means, including exploration, military actions, American Indian removal, and diplomatic efforts such as the Monroe Doctrine.
  2. Frontier settlers tended to champion expansion efforts, while American Indian resistance led to a sequence of wars and federal efforts to control and relocate American Indian populations.


After this lesson, students will be able to

  • Understand American government policies towards marginalized groups in history.
  • Evaluate the Jefferson’s ideologies and policies towards Native Americans throughout his lifetime and presidency.
  • Analyze the American government’s policies towards Native Americans and different approaches.
  • Evaluate Native American responses and attitudes towards the American government and policies.
  • Analyze historical documents and practice historical thinking skills.
  • Analyze and write a Document Based Question.


  • Give background for Jefferson and his ideas on Native American Indian Policy.
  • Utilize any or all of the extension activities to help teach Jefferson before the DBQ is given OR utilize activities afterwards.
  • Students should have a significant background on Jefferson and Indian policy in order to evaluate effectively for the DBQ.
  • Utilize document source analysis of your choosing. For our AP class, we use HIPPO.  (Historical Context, Intended Audience, Point of View, Purpose, Original Outside Examples).


  • Document Based Question
  • Native American council handout
  • DBQ Extension activity Handouts
  • Additional Handouts
  • Computers

Assessment(s): Grading of DBQ and class discussion, document analysis

Assessment Criteria: Students can be assessed on DBQ, participation, and question and answer

Accommodations: can be modified as needed