Lesson Plan - Creating the Biased Image of the American Indian

Students will use representations of Native Americans on maps from 1590-1800 as well as colonial narratives from the time period to examine how the depictions and biases of the native cultures were formed. Students will analyze primary source documents for audience, tone, and positionality in their study. This lesson is ideal for the 11th grade Language Arts class or the US History class.

This lesson plan is available as a formatted worksheet which can be printed and distributed. Download the worksheet by clicking the title: native_american_images_1.pdf. A copy of the worksheet with full map URLs is also available: native_american_images_2.pdf

This lesson plan was prepared by Jennifer Job, School of Education, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Time Required: Two 50-minute class periods


Teacher Instructions:

  1. To begin the lesson, ask students to give words they associate with "Native American." Encourage them to be as wide-ranging as possible in order to explore their biases. Write the words on the board to give a visual representation. Discuss with the students what they know about Native Americans and what the typical biases are (e.g., feathers in the hair, wearing no clothing, etc.).
  2. Give students the handout with the resources and questions to be answered.
  3. Students may work in pairs if there are not enough computers.
  4. Ask students to complete the following:
    • Create a collage of Native American drawings from the NC Map resources using the NC Maps page features and a graphics program (PhotoShop, MS Publisher, MS Paint). Ask students to group the collage pictures either by progression of date or by aspects they see in common amongst the images. Tell them that they must fill an entire 8.5" x 11" page but do not need to use all of the maps listed.
    • Read the sections related to Native Americans from two of the three sources provided on the handout from the Documenting the American South collection.
    • Using the collages they created and the DocSouth sources, answer the questions on the handout in paragraph form.

Assessment: Collect the collages and answers to the questions for grading.

North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

Social Studies -- Native Americans as a Topic

Grade: 11

2.01: Research and analyze ideas, events, and/or movements related to United States culture by: :

  • locating facts and details for purposeful elaboration.
  • excluding extraneous information.
  • providing accurate documentation.

2.03: Demonstrate the ability to read, listen to and view a variety of increasingly complex print and non-print informational texts appropriate to grade level and course literary focus, by:

  • selecting, monitoring, and modifying as necessary reading strategies appropriate to readers' purpose.
  • identifying and analyzing text components (such as organizational structures, story elements, organizational features) and evaluating their impact on the text..
  • providing textual evidence to support understanding of and reader's response to text.
  • demonstrating comprehension of main idea and supporting details.
  • making inferences, predicting, and drawing conclusions based on text.
  • identifying and analyzing personal, social, historical or cultural influences, contexts, or biases.

3.02: Select an issue or theme and take a stance on that issue by:

  • reflecting the viewpoint(s) of Americans of different times and places.
  • showing sensitivity or empathy for the culture represented.
  • supporting the argument with specific reasons.