by Shana R. Brown (descendant of the Yakama Nation), Shoreline School District
Understanding Treaties: Students Explore the Lives of Yakama People Before and After Treaties
Can be used to satisfy the Constitutional Issues Classroom-Based Assessment.
What are "Indian treaties" and what does that old stuff have to do with me today? This is not an uncommon response when students are challenged to investigate this complex topic. After completing these curricular units, students should be able to answer this basic question.
These lessons involve active role-play of stakeholders in treaty negotiations. Students analyze the goals of the tribes and the U.S. government, to evaluate bias, and to emotionally connect with what was gained and lost during this pivotal time. Students will realize that the term 'treaty rights' refers to the guarantee, by treaty, of pre-existing Indian rights, as opposed to special rights given or granted to them.
The first part, "Pre-Contact", describes the lives of the Yakama people prior to contact with settlers and the United States government and emphasizes tribal relationships to the land and the daily life that existed prior to Euro-American settlement.
The second part, "Understanding Treaties", gives high school students the experience of losing places they hold dear and seeks to enrich their understanding of the treaties.
In the third part, in order to satisfy the "Constitutional Issues" CBA, students will be asked to choose a contemporary debate over treaty rights in Washington state, take a position on that controversy, and write a persuasive paper.
Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs):This lesson plan satisfies the following EALRs: History 1.1.3b, History WH 1.2.3, Civics 1.2.3a, Civics 4.2.3a, Civics 1.1.3b, Civics 4.1.3a and the following Social Studies skills: 1.1.3f. Click here to print out the material for your reference.
CBA Scoring Rubric and Notes:The Office of State Public Instruction has created a scoring rubric for the Constitutional Issues Classroom-Based Assessment. Click here to download and print this rubric for your information.
Essential Questions for Students:
Primary Sources: A piece of evidence created during the time period under investigation by someone who participated in, witnessed, or commented upon the events that you are studying. It is the surviving record of past events such as photographs, diaries, or artifacts.
Secondary Sources: Books, articles, essays, and lectures created, often using primary sources, that describe and interpret a time period after events have taken place.
Primary Sources for Student Examination (provided):
Secondary Sources for Student Examination (provided):
PART ONE - THE LIFE OF YAKAMA PEOPLE BEFORE CONTACT
PART ONE, SESSION ONE
Therefore the lessons contained in these units begin with the concept of the sacred circle, the integral connection of tribes to their lands. Once students comprehend this symbiosis of people and land, they can begin to understand the high stakes of treaty negotiations and the legacy of sadness, anger, loss and empowerment that continues today.
Students are then-and only then-prepared to study the negotiations themselves.Prepare yourself for this discussion by reviewing the following materials: Breaking the Sacred Circle, What is a Treaty?, Kamiakin biography and the Federally-Recognized Tribes of the Columbia-Snake Basin: Yakama.
The Sacred Circle...
Drawing from your copy of "Breaking the Sacred Circle", explain the key elements of the circle.
Explain to the students that the common sacred symbol or object of great significance, for many of the (over 500!) Indian nations in the United States is the circle.
Ask students if they know of any other symbols that are commonly understood among many countries, perhaps even the whole word. Responses might vary from a white flag, symbolizing surrender or peace, to the dove, the United Nations symbol on its flag, to the Red Cross as a symbol for medical assistance. Still others will identify the Christian cross, the Star of David, and other religious symbols.
Point out to the students that to combine all the meanings of the symbols they've just identified would just about illustrate the importance of the Sacred Circle to tribal people all over what is now the United States and Canada.
Explain that living outside of this circle, that is, outside of natural harmony, was never considered a possibility for tribal people, as this belief was as fundamental as breathing. You might ask your students to think of beliefs, traditions, and life ways in their own lives that are important and help to define who they are as individuals, families, and communities. To give up all of that (and more) is what Indian people faced after the coming of the white man.
Reveal that this discussion lays the groundwork for the study of U.S.-Indian treaties and how they are important to students today. Explain to your class that in order to understand the impact of these treaties, they will need to explore how life changed for the Yakama as a result of contact with Euro-American settlers and the United States government.
Share that they will be asked at the end of this lesson plan to write a persuasive paper on a contemporary debate over treaty rights in Washington state. You may wish to suggest that students begin thinking about potential topics for discussion.
Hand out to students the "The Legend of Mt. Adams" and "The Ancient Inhabitants of the Eyakema Valley". Have them read the articles in class. The focus of this reading should be to understand the life ways of the Yakama people and to connect to the concept of the sacred circle. Ask your students to help you make a list of the ways the Yakama people related to the land.
This might be an opportunity to introduce or reinforce map skills. You will need to remind them of the bird's eye or overhead view concept so that students can use this to define their floor plans. You may choose to model a floor plan by drawing a bird's eye view of the classroom on the board.
Ask students to complete this drawing before your next lesson on the history and everyday life of the Yakama People. You can explain to them that it will be used to illustrate the treaty negotiation process that the Walla Walla and Yakama tribes entered into in 1855.
PART ONE, SESSION TWO
Yakama or Yakima?
The term "Yakama" is the one currently used by the Yakama Nation. The tribal council decided that they would go back to the original spelling in the 1855 Treaty. "Yakama" was how the name was spelled by the non-tribal interpreters. In 1998, the tribal council voted to drop the term "Indian" from the name of the nation.
The Yakama Nation is comprised of tribal members from the 14 tribes and bands.
Project the map of tribal homelands in Washington Territory prior to European contact and then juxtapose this with a map of Native American reservations today. Have them identify the Yakama Reservation and mark its approximate location on their map. Ask them:
Explain that they will be learning about treaties, the primary mechanism that divested the Yakama people of their homeland and placed them, and other tribes, on reservations.
This exercise is designed to heighten students' reading comprehension by highlighting key words in advance. As a free-write exercise, it also encourages creative written expression.
Now distribute the reading Federally-Recognized Tribes of the Columbia-Snake Basin: Yakama. After giving them time to read, pair them up and have them share their Story Impressions by reading to each other. Have them discuss their favorite "bloopers." Before moving on, facilitate a discussion of what they were most surprised to discover from this reading.
PART TWO - UNDERSTANDING TREATIES
Arrival of the Nez Perce Walla Walla Treaty, May 1855 by Gustav Sohon.
PART TWO, SESSION ONE
The students will be broken up into four groups, each representing different historic actors or stakeholders and interests. After each group is prepared for their role, the groups will engage in mock treaty negotiations. These negotiations will be used to illustrate the effects of U.S.-Indian treaties on both sides involved.
Treaty: "...an agreement, binding and legal between two or more sovereign nations. When nations make treaties with each other, they also recognize that each is sovereign; that is, that each has legitimate political power of its own."
The Continental Congress signed one treaty with the Delaware in 1778 (it is correct to say though that the US was not then "newly independent")
The Articles of Confederation Congress from 1781-89 signed 8 treaties with tribes starting with the Cherokee in 1785, the Shawnee, Choctaw, and other tribes in 1786, and two treaties with other tribes in Jan. 1789 all BEFORE Geo Wash was sworn in as President in April 30, 1789. The treaty with the Yakama tribe was much later in 1855.
Possible responses might include parents force them to move (but this could be a good thing, because they might have a promise of a bigger, better sacred place-as in the case of many colonists), a fire or some other disaster destroys it, or there is a family problem (death, divorce, or some other personal safety issue) that forces a move (as in the case of some colonists or immigrants)
Possible responses might include a new family member who needs to share the space, or parents need part of the space for various reasons, etc.
Step VII (optional):
Students will negotiate in pairs. You should choose which of the student's "sacred spaces" will serve as the point of negotiation.
All students should feel free to negotiate a treaty based on what is best for them individually and what is unique to their situation (the maps of the sacred places), but ask that they remain within the parameters of the handouts.
You will need to explain to students the roles associated with their group designation by getting them to look at the top of their Treaty Negotiation handouts. Expect that all students will want to be parents (the power structure will not be lost on them!) You, the teacher, will act as the ultimate authority in these negotiations.
Note: You will constantly side with Group D (the parents of Group C) and Group B (siblings of Group A), even if their tactics are unfair.
Give student groups time to work through the questions and concepts in the handouts and develop their strategies.
Distribute Student Handout 4 for students. Ask them to record their treaty settlements on the handout.Let the negotiations begin! Allow at least 15 minutes for the negotiations. Expect that discussions will get heated; try your best not to interfere.
PART TWO, SESSION TWO
Ask how sibling-to-sibling negotiations differed from parent to child negotiations.
Project the 1851 map provided of the United States. Use this map to illustrate to students the approximate locations of the groups in the following discussion.
Explain what each group represented (Group A represented English Colonial interests/Group B Northeast tribes and Group C United States interests/Group D Washington Territory tribes).
Explain that during the treaty era, the United States government broke almost all of its treaties, including the over 60 treaties it negotiated with Pacific Northwest tribes.
Now that they see their sacred places carved up (and for some they might be displaced altogether), also ask them to answer the following questions:
Distribute the Vocabulary Graphic Organizer and make dictionaries available. Engage in classroom discussion about:
Consider asking students after they have completed this activity:
Be sure to allow time for the sharing of emotions. Students may either journal or discuss in pairs, groups, or as a class.
PART THREE - WRITING A PERSUASIVE PAPER
Explain to students that their research and writing assignment is the following:
What are the various perspectives on Native American treaty rights?
How do treaty rights issues relate to our democratic ideals and how do they involve our rights and responsibilities?
Allow your students some research time in the library so that they can choose a contemporary treaty rights controversy. Suggest to them that they might consider treaty fishing rights, treaty whaling rights, recovery of tribal land, controversies over casinos and sovereignty, or other issues in the news close to you.
Take the time to review with students the difference between primary and secondary source materials. You may also wish to review some of the different resources available to them to use when writing the paper and the appropriate citations of those sources.
Go to the Office of State Public Instruction's Constitutional Issues CBA on their website at: http://www.k12.wa.us/Assessment/WASL/SocialStudies/CBAs/HS-ConstitutionalIssuesCBA.pdf in order to acquire and hand out to students the Constitutional Issues Student Assignment, Student Checklist, Graphic Organizer, and Paper Outline. This is also where you will get detailed instructions and the scoring rubric for your use.