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Weaving the Future, Confronting the Past:
Mini Lesson 1: Historical Artifact Analysis

Lesson Overview

What can historical artifacts reveal about the attitudes of U.S. settlers towards California Indians during the California Indian Genocide?

In this mini-lesson, students will use the Ten Stages of Genocide framework and primary sources to analyze Western attitudes towards California Native people during the Gold Rush era. This lesson is meant to supplement Lesson 1: Introduction to the California Indian Genocide.​

Time Frame: 1 Class Period (50 minutes)

Content Level: Grades 8-12

Aligned Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-12.1; CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-12.1,2,4,6,7,9; CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-12.9

Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will analyze and interpret a variety of primary sources to identify prevailing attitudes towards California Indians during the California Indian Genocide.

  2. Students will gain an understanding of the historical context surrounding the California Indian Genocide, including the societal, political, and economic factors that contributed to settlers' attitudes and actions.

  3. Students will engage in ethical reasoning by examining the moral implications of the settlers' attitudes and actions, considering questions of justice, responsibility, and human rights.

  4. Students will enhance their written and verbal communication skills by summarizing their findings, engaging in class discussions, and/or presenting their analyses to their peers.



  • Historical Artifacts Packet

  • Historical Artifacts Mind Mapping Activity

  • Google Slides with analysis questions (optional)

  • Google Form with analysis questions (optional)

Part One:

Artifact Analysis

Studying primary sources can help us understand the attitudes and behaviors of a group of people. Use the Historical Artfact Packet and the Google Slides to explore and discuss these important historical artifacts.

Part Two:

Mind Map: Ten Stages of Genocide and Primary Source Analysis

Let the creativity flow with this fun mind mapping activity. Analyze these primary sources through the lens of the Ten Stages of Genocide. 

Part Three:

Journal Entry

Complete a 500-word journal entry reflecting on the artifacts, OR

  1. Organize an awareness campaign around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) for the young Native girl depicted in Artifact 1.

  2. Embark on a scavenger hunt using California Indian History’s extensive collection of primary sources to locate newspaper clippings that pair with the

    Expeditions Against the Indians listed in Artifact 3

  3. Pull language from Artifacts 4 and 6 to create your own found poetry. 

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Up next:

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Mini-Lesson 2: 

Native Art as Resistance

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