Masters Thesis

When cultures collide: effects of state and federal Indian policy upon the Modoc people

This project provides eighth grade students an opportunity to see another perspective from the era of American Westward Expansion. Students learn about Modoc culture from anthropological records, Modoc stories, and investing their own time in a construction project. They then compare perspectives that Modoc may have felt to those of soldiers and pioneers who first interacted with Modoc people. For generations, student textbooks as well as numerous Hollywood western movies depicting prosperous western pioneer towns fixed a mainstream perspective. When thinking of America’s expansion across the North American continent, many people envision rugged individuals and think of the refrain, “sea to shining sea,” heard in Bates’s America the Beautiful. Common Core aligned text books are only beginning to expose students to other perspectives from the time period. As Americans established a dominant presence in lands not part of America’s expanse many indigenous populations had adverse experiences. This project offers evidence to allow students to evaluate various perspectives and establish their own.