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Please refer to the Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System website: (http://www.pdesas.org/module/sas/curriculumframework/SocialStudiesCF.aspx)

for information on the Pennsylvania Curriculum Framework for Social Studies. You will find much of the information about PA Academic Standards, essential questions, vocabulary, assessments, etc. by navigating through the various components of the Curriculum Framework.
LESSON / UNIT TITLE: Indian Removal (1830-1838)

Teacher Name(s): Jeffrey Klugh and James Smith

School District: Jersey Shore Area

Building: High School

Grade Level: 9

Subject: U.S. History 1

Time Required: 2 class periods/80 minutes

Lesson/Unit Summary (2-3 sentence synopsis):

This lesson surrounds the time period of 1830-1838. The lesson will primarily cover the policy of Indian removal and the events leading up to and following this event. Primary and secondary sources will be used to address the essential questions and objectives.



Essential Questions for Lesson/Unit

  1. How can the treatment of individuals and small groups affect a nation as a whole?

  2. How was the policy of checks and balances strained in this conflict?

  3. What reasons do groups of people give for treating others unfairly?

  4. How do economics motivate people?

Pennsylvania Academic Standards Addressed in Lesson/Unit
Historical Analysis and Skills Development: 8.1.9

A. Chronological Thinking

B. Historical Comprehension

C. Historical Interpretation

D. Historical Research



U. S. History 8.4.9

A. Contributions of Individuals and Groups

B. Documents, Artifacts and Historical Places

C. Influences of Continuity and Change

D. Conflict and Cooperation among Groups

Lesson/Unit Objectives

  1. Jackson inherited a program designed to deal with the Indian tribes who lived east of the Mississippi River. This program changed when confronted with issues from the Cherokee Indians in Georgia.

  2. Jackson actions towards the Cherokee reflected his views on the role of the president as well as on states’ rights.

  3. The outcome of this policy varied for each individual tribe.

  4. Whites justified these policies in a number of ways.

  5. There were a few alternatives to Indian Removal.

Vocabulary/Key Terms for Lesson/Unit


  • Trail of Tears

  • Indian Removal Act

  • Worcester v. Georgia

  • Cherokee Nation v. Georgia

  • 5 Civilized Tribes

  • Checks and balances

  • Genocide

  • Executive Branch

  • Judicial Branch

  • Prejudice



Historical Background for Teachers / Research Narrative

Indian Removal (1830-1838)

Early in the 19th century, while the rapidly-growing United States expanded into the lower South, white settlers faced what they considered an obstacle. This area was home to the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole nations. These Indian nations, in the view of the settlers and many other white Americans, were standing in the way of progress. Eager for land to raise cotton, the settlers pressured the federal government to acquire Indian Territory. The voices for removal found an eager political ally in President Andrew Jackson. Jackson an Indian fighter will push through Congress the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 provided territory for relocated tribes in present day Oklahoma and Kansas. The territory in those areas would be given freely to the relocated tribes in exchange for the relocated tribes’ ancestral homes. To persuade Indians to move, government officials promised the Indians that they could live on the new lands “they and their children, as long as grass grows and water runs.” Jackson's attitude toward Native Americans was paternalistic and patronizing -- he described them as children in need of guidance, and believed the removal policy was beneficial to the Indians. Most white Americans thought that the United States would never extend beyond the Mississippi. Removal would save Indian people from the depredations of whites, and would resettle them in an area where they could govern themselves in peace. But some Americans saw this as an excuse for a brutal and inhumane course of action, and protested loudly against removal.

In the late 1820’s white voices throughout the western states and territories called for the resettlement of Indians to west of the Mississippi River. Many eastern whites favored removal as they believed that removal was one way to preserve Native American traditional cultures. Most Indians had no wish to leave their ancestral lands. The southeast was home to the so called five civilized tribes of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaws, and Seminoles. A number of tribes within these Indian Nations had assimilated into the white culture. Although the five Indian nations had made earlier attempts at resistance, many of their strategies were non-violent. One method was to adopt Anglo-American practices such as large-scale farming, Western education, and slave-holding. This earned the nations the designation of the "Five Civilized Tribes." They adopted this policy of assimilation in an attempt to coexist with settlers and ward off hostility, but this only made whites jealous and resentful.

Through the early 1800’s, many Native American still controlled vast tracts of land, in particular the Cherokee. Many Cherokee had adopted white ways and even inter-married. Growing up in bicultural world, mixed-blood Indians had learned political ways of the whites and some of them emulated the lifestyle of southern planters. To protect their property and the lands of their people, the mixed-race population attempted to forge a strong national identity. Sequoyah, a Cherokee of mixed lineage, developed a system of writing for the Cherokee language, and the tribe published a newspaper. In 1827 the Cherokees introduced a new charter of government modeled directly on the United States Constitution.

The Cherokees’ preferences carried no weight with the state of Georgia. In 1802 Georgia had given up its land claims in the West in return for a federal promise to extinguish Indian landholding in the state. Now it demanded the fulfillment of that promise, declaring that the Cherokees were merely tenants on state-owned land. The Cherokee used legal means in their attempt to safeguard their rights. They sought protection from land-hungry white settlers, who continually harassed them by stealing their livestock, burning their towns, and squatting on their land. In 1827 the Cherokee adopted a written constitution declaring themselves to be a sovereign nation. They based this on United States policy. In former treaties, Indian nations had been declared sovereign so they would be legally capable of ceding their lands. Now the Cherokee hoped to use this status to their advantage. The state of Georgia, however, did not recognize their sovereign status, but saw them as tenants living on state land. The Cherokee took their case to the Supreme Court, which ruled against them.

The Cherokee went to the Supreme Court again in 1831. This time they based their appeal on an 1830 Georgia law which prohibited whites from living on Indian Territory after March 31, 1831, without a license from the state. The state legislature had written this law to justify removing white missionaries who were helping the Indians resist removal. The court this time decided in favor of the Cherokee. It stated that the Cherokee had the right to self-government, and declared Georgia's extension of state law over them to be unconstitutional l (Worcester v. Georgia). The state of Georgia refused to abide by the Court decision, however, and President Jackson refused to enforce the law.

In 1830, just a year after taking office, Jackson pushed a new piece of legislation called the "Indian Removal Act" through both houses of Congress. It gave the president power to negotiate removal treaties with Indian tribes living east of the Mississippi. Under these treaties, the Indians were to give up their lands east of the Mississippi in exchange for lands to the west. Those wishing to remain in the east would become citizens of their home state. This act affected not only the southeastern nations, but many others further north. The removal was supposed to be voluntary and peaceful, and it was that way for the tribes that agreed to the conditions. But the southeastern nations resisted, and Jackson forced them to leave.

“The Trail of Tears”

Rather than guaranteeing the Cherokee their right to their land Jackson moved purposefully to take it from them.US government officials signed a removal treaty with a minority faction and insisted that all Cherokee abide by it. By the deadline in May 1838, only 2,000 0f the 17,000 Cherokee had departed. During the summer, Martin Van Buren, who succeeded Jackson as President, ordered General Winfield Scott to enforce the treaty. Scott’s army rounded up about 14,000 Cherokees and forcibly marched them 1,200 miles to the new Indian Territory, an arduous journey they remembered as the “Trail of Tears”. Along the way 3,000 Indians died of starvation and exposure.



Instructional Prodedures and Activities

  • Day 1

    • Students will read in their textbooks about Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal policies

    • A brief in-class discussion will take place concerning Jackson’s motivations for these policies

    • Teacher will pass out a primary source document “A Traveler’s View of the Trail of Tears”. Students will read and answer 6-7 questions about the reading.

    • Students will be assigned homework: Writing a paragraph summarizing everything from the previous day.

  • Day 2

    • Students will use this period to select one of three different projects (differentiated based on interest) about Indian reaction.

    • Students will be given a packet of resources about what happened to the Indian tribes stemming from: their travels on the Trail of Tears and their settlements in the “Indian Territory” (present-day Oklahoma and Kansas)

  • This assignment may go into a third day, if necessary.

Suggested Strategies for Differentiating Instruction







  • As mentioned above: students will select one of three different projects to complete (based on interest) about potential Indian petitions to the government to save and/or return to their homeland

    • Writing: Students will write a 3-4 paragraph letter to President Jackson and/or Congress explaining their plight.

    • Listening: Students will write a song about the Indians’ experiences on the Trail of Tears – 3-4 stanzas will be required.

    • Creating: Students will create three separate posters to petition the government to rethink their removal policy.



Assessment of Student Learning (Formative and Summative)

  • Formative assessments:

    • Teacher asking questions during class discussion

    • Questions students will answer about primary source

    • Student summarization paragraph

  • Summative assessments:

    • Three-pronged project listed above

Materials and Resources

(Include text, supplementary resources, primary source documents, websites, handouts, charts, maps, etc.)

  • A History of US by Joy Hakim

  • The Unfinished Nation by Alan Brinkley

  • America: A Narrative History by Tindall and Shi

Author(s) of Unit/Lesson Plan

Jeffrey Klugh, Jersey Shore Area School District

James Smith, Jersey Shore Area School District

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