Dawes Act Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teach your students about the Dawes Act using this lesson. Students watch an engaging video lesson that covers the background, key aspects, and effect of the Dawes Act. Check for comprehension with high level questioning, then ask students apply concepts with a critical thinking activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain key aspects of Dawes Act
  • describe background leading up to Dawes Act
  • discuss the effect of Dawes Act
  • analyze primary source document, the Dawes Act
  • defend or criticize the Dawes Act


  • 1 to 2 hours


  • 'Indian Land for Sale' image, located with simple search
  • Copies of the Dawes Act, one for each student
  • Role cards (one for each student) - on index cards, write the role of a person living during the Dawes Act, such as a female pioneer with small children and husband away from the homestead, a member of the U.S. Army attempting to uphold laws, or a Native American
  • Additional resources for research if necessary

Key Vocabulary

  • Dawes Act
  • Reservations
  • Colonization
  • Homestead Act
  • Indian Removal Act of 1830
  • Indian Appropriations Act
  • Crazy Horse
  • Sitting Bull
  • George A. Custer
  • Battle of Little Big Horn
  • General Allotment Act
  • Senator Henry Dawes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.3

Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

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