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Weaving the Future, Confronting the Past:
Lesson 1: Introduction to the California Indian Genocide

Lesson Overview

  1. What actions did the US government take to suppress California Native peoples throughout the Gold Rush era?

  2. In what ways can the actions against California Native peoples during the Gold Rush be categorized as genocide, and why is this classification significant?

Time Frame: 2-3 class periods

Content Level: Grades 8-12

Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will learn and apply the UN definition of genocide to analyze a primary and secondary source short documentary related to the California Indian Genocide, identifying instances that align with the criteria outlined in the definition. 

  2. Students will critically read a secondary source detailing the historical context and policies related to the California Indian genocide.

  3. Students will actively engage in class discussions to deepen their understanding of the genocidal acts committed against the Native peoples of California during the Gold Rush era.


  • Lesson 1 Google Slides

  • Video Notetaker

  • Ten Stages of Genocide Framework Reference Guide

  • California Indian Genocide Reading, Timeline & Glossary

  • Audio recording of Reading with EdPuzzle (optional)

  • Ten Stages of California Indian Genocide Reading Notetaker

  • Group Work Toolkit

Part One:

What is Genocide?

Apply the UN definition of genocide to the Gold Rush period, as presented in this short documentary.

Part Two:

The Ten Stages of Genocide

Explore the Ten Stages of Genocide Framework, an analysis tool designed to recognize genocidal patterns.


Part Three:

Applying Ten Stages to the California Indian Genocide

Read an essay on the California Indian Genocide, and apply the Ten Stages Framework to the early colonization of California.

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Additional Resources

Up next:

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Mini-Lesson 1: 

Historical Artifact Analysis

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