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Reservation Controversies covers historic issues dealing with American Indian Reservations in the 1870s.
This experience uses problem based learning (PBL), in which the student is confronted or faced with a real world problem which has no preconceived right or wrong answers.
Using various teaching/learning strategies, which include brainstorming, role playing, and oral presentations, the students access primary sources and other background sources to arrive at a recommendation, based on the information. The teacher, librarian, and other support staff act as guides or advisors through most of the process.
Students will be able to:
If you or your students are not very familiar with the Library of Congress online collections, we recommend that you review Using Primary Sources.
Read these accounts to get a flavor of differing histories and views.
This scenario puts the student as prospective Indian Agent for the Comanche Indian reservation in 1873. For this scenario there are specially selected online links and resources for the unit. It also has the prompt which sets the entire lesson into motion.
Students read the fictional letter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In this letter they will find what the scenario entails. They will role play applying for a job as the Indian Agent for the Comanche Reservation in Oklahoma, and must prepare for an interview for the position. They learn as they read the letter that they can use online primary sources as well as other online and print sources to find information.
The Department of the Interior
Bureau of Indian Affairs
From: Zachary Sherman, Undersecretary, Bureau of Indian Affairs
To: Woolman Naylor, Candidate for Agent Position
Re: Interview for Indian Agent position, Comanche Reservation
I should like to congratulate you for being selected as a candidate for the position of Indian Agent for the Comanche Indian Reservation. Your interview has been scheduled for Monday, October 27. This appointment is a very sensitive one. The people in that area of Texas are largely Scotch-Irish and with your Quaker background, you can expect some resistance. Part of the reason you are a candidate is the long history of fair dealings your religion has toward the Indians. I have recently heard from Dr. Eleazar Thomas (by way of Pastor Oscar Penn Fitzgerald, page 140), about the dangerous situation with the Modoc Indians and Captain Jack out in California. Dr. Thomas also notes (his chapter starts on page 75) that the "Quaker policy," while sometimes successful, is quite different from other more popular approaches.
As you can understand, your appointment is subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. With that in mind, it is imperative that you understand and can communicate to me that you understand the concerns and rights of Texans as much as your community has also demonstrated toward the Indians. I expect that you are familiar with the history of the relations of the Comanche with the Texans, the fears and concerns of all persons in the state. Here are some of the areas that you will be expected to discuss with me:
You may bring with you any documents and resources you feel would assist you in your efforts. Please make use of my staff members to put you in touch with experienced people in this matter. The Library of Congress is at your disposal as well.
Groups will then begin to define exactly what it is that they are to do.
They will answer the three main PBL questions:
Groups then assign information retrieval to selected students who will then share what they find with the group.
On the second day, class starts with sharing of found information. Other students then ask follow-up questions to gain a better idea of what is there.
Have students write a letter to the fictitious official.
An alternative is to have an actor who plays an interviewer come into class and role play the official. Students take turns interviewing and answering questions.
Research more recent issues relating to American Indian reservations, such as gaming casinos, using Congress.gov. Questions to consider might include:
The following points and thoughts are offered to the teacher who is guiding the students through the PBL unit.
Points to consider when evaluating student work include:
Brett Silva & Peter Milbury