As I am writing this I am reflecting on some of the discussions I've had over the past few weeks about Native American issues. I thought about the exhibit I saw about Chief Wahoo at the Western Reserve Historical Society and about the book I got my husband (who was actually in Cleveland last night watching the Indians lose) called Louis Sockalexis: The First Cleveland Indian. Sockalexis actually played for the Cleveland Spiders Baseball team and some people think the name Indians was chosen to honor him. I also reflected on the the discussion James and I had when leaving class last week and I explained to him my frustration with Miami changing the name of its mascot from the Redskins to the Redhawks (the Miami Indian tradition was a big part of our school and the mascot was trained by the Miami Indian tribe to do the actual dances used by the tribe and then trained to go out into the schools and talk about the Miami Indians). It was interesting to think about how Native Americans were treated by those who immigrated to America and how today we are focusing on the heritage of Native Americans and how that heritage may have been lost because of the actions of the leaders of our then new nation.
While I'm thinking about it I'd like to share one of my favorite maps in the collection. It is a map of the Americas from 1562. There is also commentary about the map written by John Hebert, the head of the Geography and Map Division. We've talked some about how the English thought of the Native Americans as savages. This map provides an excellent illustration of some of the myths and stereotypes that people of this time had about the Atlantic Ocean and the people in the Americas. I often use this map to talk about how American Memory doesn't censor history (look at the area around Brazil to see an example) and why it's a really good idea to look at the materials you plan to use before you use them with your students and get an unexpected surprise.
In terms of the lesson I would want to have the students look at the map of Indian Migration (click on the globe to access the map). I would want them to compare it to one of the other immigrant groups shown on the feature and get their opinions.
Next I would want to have the students look at the treaties and maps of the land covered by these treaties. A Century of Lawmaking has information on how to find the treaties and links to the maps . This would allow the students to see some the lands involved and where various tribes before they were forced off of their land. It might also be interesting to show a map where the Indian Reservations were located as of 1923 and then another map from the National Atlas of the United States documenting where Native Americans lived in 1970.
I would also show students some of the Railroad Maps to show where the lines ran. I would like to also compare that map to one documenting where the Plains Indians lived. There are some in the Map collections with one example shown here
I would also ask students to think about the influence of the English in the displacement of the Indians and see if they can see connections to the original treatment of the Indians when the English first arrived in the Americas. Is it possible that the roots of the displacement and the ways that the Native Americans were treated come from the English and their belief that the Indians were savages may play a role in how these groups were treated? Again I might have the students reflect back on my question of a couple of weeks ago where I asked what would have happened if the English (and the other explorers) had not come to the Americas.