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Natives of Indiana


Purpose of Lesson: This lesson (1) introduces students to the American Indian nations that populated what is now Indiana, (2) illustrates the forced removal of these tribes, and (3) allows students to examine the ideologies behind that forced migration.

Objectives: At the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Discuss and compare various American indian nations
  • Appreciate native societies' way of life
  • Articulate the reasons for the forced removal of tribes
  • Trace the paths of forced migration

Correlation to Indiana Standards (for Fourth Grade Social Studies)

Social Studies

4.1.15 Using primary source and secondary source materials, generate questions, seek answers, and write brief comments about an event in Indiana history.

4.5.1 Identify ways that social groups influence individual behavior and responsibilities.

4.5.2 Identify the different types of social groups to which people belong and the functions these groups perform.


4.7.1 Ask thoughtful questions and respond orally to relevant questions with appropriate elaboration.

4.7.11 Make narrative (story) presentations that:

•  relate ideas, observations, or memories about an event or experience.

•  provide a context that allows the listener to imagine the circumstances of the event or experience.

•  provide insight into why the selected event or experience should be of interest to the audience.

4.7.13 Deliver oral summaries of articles and books that contain the main ideas of the event or article and the most significant details.

Historical and Methodological Context for the Lesson:

A solid introduction to the native cultures of the Indiana region (including location maps) and a discussion of the forced migration are provided by the Teacher Resource Guide of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (Indianapolis, IN: 2002). A PDF of a relevant portion of the Guide is included with this lesson.


Lesson Activities:

1. Before class period(s), use the excerpted portion of the Teacher Resource Guide to create a lecture/discussion about Native American cultures in Indiana and their forced removal. The specific content and scope of the lesson/discussion will vary with instructor needs and desires, but organizational topics might include:

a. the social structure and cultural activities of specific tribes

b. relationship with white culture: fur trade, treaties, forced migration

c. historical and contemporary thoughts on being a native American

Three visual aids are included within the excerpted portion of the Teacher Resource Guide:

1. A chart that briefly summarizes each of the peoples of the Indiana region

2. A map that notes the location of native American peoples in the Midwest prior to 1600

3. A map that notes tribal locations in the Midwest, circa 1795.


A. After learning about the various native cultures in the Indiana region, have students (individually or in small groups) choose one tribe and write two paragraphs that describe the tribe's society and their relationship with white culture. You may wish to have students read their summaries aloud to compare tribal cultures.

B. Focus students' attention on the forced migration of some of these tribes, discussing some of the economic and cultural reasons behind the forced movement. Using Removal Maps A and B (included as a PDF with this lesson), have students trace the path of migration of the mentioned tribes, making each path a different color.

C. Time permitting, you may also wish to have students write a paragraph or two describing what it might have been like to be forcibly removed from home.