Treaty Rights

Students will begin to learn the importance of treaties signed between the United States and the tribes. They will use their math and reading skills to understand how these two concepts tie in with treaties.

Materials Needed


Art Materials

Activity Process


Ask the students the following questions: What is a law? Are our school rules similar to laws? After discussion, go over our rules that the students signed in our classroom. Pass out the KWL chart. Bring up Treaties and how they get signed and what it means.


Discuss the term Treaty and browse the treaties that have passed over the years. Use pages 33-41 from the brown Treaty Rights book. Discuss what is fair and what is not using one of the treaties


Go over the process of how displacement of American Indians led to treaties. Browse treaties located in the packet. Divide the class in groups. On the back of the index card, make an outline of your state and divide them however you may see fit in several sections. Each section is worth 50 acres.Pass out the Tribe Index cards to the groups. Have each group gather together and decide on which lakes, acres they want. Add/calculate how many "x's" are needed to equal their allotted amount. (Teachers act as the U.S. Government)Have the groups negotiate which tribe gets which acres and lakes.Pass out the written treaty for each tribe to interpret and sign. Explain to each tribe they can renegotiate treaty details.NOTE: Teacher provides stipulations with advantages and disadvantages for each tribe: Please see attached examples The students calculate their payments; weigh what they are given, and pay.Allow only 15 minutes for negotiations. (The U.S. Government wants the land so time is of the essence). Once agreements are made, go over each tribe's treaty and interpret some of the wording Explain: When the treaties were being signed, many tribes didn't understand English, therefore, the U.S. Government could word things to their advantage. This is why it is important to understand what you are reading, so people won't take advantage of you.


After interpreting the treaties, close with a discussion of how students felt working within their tribe or deciding on such limitations. Ask: How will your tribe survive if you have only one lake to work with, while another tribe has more than one, or, you have very few acres to hunt and make a home of? Briefly describe trading or selling goods (fur/fish) if no one brings it up.


  1. The students, in groups, will correctly add up their acres and place the correct amount of "x's" that correspond with their acres on their map.
  2. The students will verbally (or by writing) explain as a group if their allotted allowances and payments are an advantage or disadvantage to their tribe.
  3. The student will write down at least one thing they learned on their KWL chart.

Vocabulary Words


This was a great lesson. There were arguments within the tribes. There were several students who quickly used their math skills to realize they were not at an advantage. This lead to a discussion and disagreements within groups to either give in or fight and the possible outcomes of tribes who took either path. In turn, we discussed the arguments that could have taken place when the treaties were signed, between tribe members. Several parents returned the packets on Day 2 and were surprised by some of the questions and facts.

Grade Levels

Primary Content Area

American Indian Learner Outcomes

Content Standards


Language Arts


Social Studies