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Human Geography, Indigenous Peoples' History


3rd, 4th, 5th


Social Studies, History, Geography


135 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, Oregon


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Strengthening the Presence of the Indigenous Peoples of Oregon

Last Updated:
Apr 20, 2024
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In this lesson, students learn the distinct ways of Indigenous peoples, how colonization damaged their lands and natural resources, and generate ideas to repair some of the damage.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students learn about colonization and the dire impacts that it had and continues to have on Native American tribes in Oregon.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students discover which Native American tribe is closest to their community and research the tribe to learn about their history and culture, as well as what life is like for tribal members today.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students reflect on sustainability or environmental problems facing the Native American tribe, generate ideas for how to help support the tribe’s sustainability and environmental goals, and share the information with others.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • Students will learn that even though Indigenous people’s land was forcibly taken from them, they continue to maintain and pass on their ways of living and doing.

  • Students will gain a greater sense of place as they discover which federally recognized Native American reservations are located near their community.

  • Students will have the chance to reflect on their feelings and emotions as they learn about colonization and forced relocation.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Speaking about colonization can raise emotions. Both educators and students need to understand that colonization is an ongoing process with many lands still being occupied due to broken and deceptive treaties.

  • Teachers may wish to view the film, Broken Treaties, before teaching this lesson to gain a greater understanding of the history of the Indigenous peoples of Oregon. The film includes information about violent massacres that may not be appropriate for younger students. The two short segments of the film that are included in the lesson were selected because they are age-appropriate.


  • Students can complete the research activity individually, in pairs, or in small groups. You can also choose to go over the research materials (articles, videos, etc.) as a class and have students answer the research questions after.

  • You can give students the chance to choose any project in the Inspire section, you can limit the choices to one or two project ideas, or you can choose to have the students all complete the same project.

  • As an extension, invite a Tribal member to visit the class in person or via video call.

Scientist Notes

This lesson underscores the importance of strengthening and building the capacity of the Indigenous peoples of Oregon to protect their lands, territories, and natural resources. It allows students to gain insights into the history of the Indigenous peoples, reflect on how they were colonized, and understand how the nine tribes have evolved from the past to the present. It also stretches students' ability to develop tactics to help support the Indigenous peoples to protect their lands from degradation. The materials, images, and videos used in creating this lesson were fact-checked, and this lesson has passed our science review process.


Note On Standards:

This lesson is aligned to Oregon standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

Discover more on the Oregon Climate Education Hub.
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