The past month or so, we have been studying Native American History again. This part of our unit was on the history of the Plains Indians from 1864 through 1890. We talked about
- the Sand Creek Massacre where the Colorado Territory militia attacked a peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho Village (1864),
- Red Clouds War and the Fetterman Massacre
- Great Sioux War of 1876 including the Battle of Little Bighorn — ie. Custer’s Last Stand
- we spent time talking about the Wild West Show (though the book we used as a spine below didn’t go into much detail about it)
- the Ghost Dance
- Wounded Knee
For our unit, we read the book Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West – Adapted for Young Readers (affiliate link) by Amy Ehrlich, Dee Brown (approximately 180 pages) which covered all of these events (and much, much more).
This was a powerful book, but it definitely covers some disturbing events so I would pre-read the book if you have sensitive kids. We read the entire book aloud and it gave a really thorough overview of what happened to the Cheyenne and Sioux tribes in the period from 1864 (Sand Creek) through 1890 (Wounded Knee).
I read the larger original book by Dee Brown a long time ago (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West), but I think this adapted version is better for upper elementary and middle school kids; as I mentioned above the adapted version was 180 pages. The section on the Cheyenne and Sioux Indians were pages 53 to 180. (The first part of the book was about the Navajo Indians. We covered them as well and you’ll find a link to those free notebook pages below.)
We also watched a number of episodes from the documentary, 500 Nations (hosted by Kevin Costner). (affiliate link) The kids (and I!!) liked these episodes and learned a lot.
During this unit, the kids had to do short research papers on one of the Native Americans from this period. They also did research and gave presentations/speeches about one of the National Parks in this region. (That’s because we’ll be going on a trip out West this summer.) You might be interested in this free Biography Research Paper Resource Packet I had made for the kids when they did their first biography research project.
To wrap up the unit, I had the kids fill out these notebook pages. These notebook pages cover only a few highlights from that period. I also included some rough (but incomplete) notes below as a starting point for you. These are definitely not complete notes; they’re just provided for your convenience!!
You may be interested in these related posts:
- Native Americans of the Northeast (Part I: The Algonquian Indians)
- Native Americans of the Northeast (Part II, Iroquois Indians) where I shared our Wampum belt project and the printable you see below:
- A Visit with Pocahontas’ Great (Gr, Gr…) Granddaughter
- Native Americans of the Southeast: Cherokee, Seminole Indians, Trail of Tears
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.