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Westward Expansion & Imperialism: Horse of a Different Color?

An Aboriginal leader at the 13th Annual Canadian Aboriginal Festival in 2006.
Lesson Plan Author(s): 
Josh Buergel
Westward Expansion and Imperialism
MWH. 11: Imperialism involved land acquisition, extraction of raw materials, spread of western values and direct political control.
Grade Level: 
Teaching Level: 
Secondary Childhood
Origins Item(s): 

This lesson plan grapples with the concepts of European Imperialism and European Westward Expansion in North America.  The Origin article that was chosen, provides valuable information on Canadian expansion into First Nation and Inuit territory.  In addition to providing information on Canadian Westward Expansion, it also provided a link to current events within Canada involving the repercussions of Westward Expansion.  I made the decision to use this article because of the actions taken by the Canadians mirrored the actions taken by Americans during American Westward Expansion, both of which have striking similarities to European Imperialism around the world.  The lesson begins by having students present their prior knowledge on both topics.  After this, students will be presented facts and concepts from the Origin article as well as an overview of American Westward Expansion.  From this point on, students will be asking themselves is Westward Expansion a form of Imperialism?  They will analyze a series of sources first in a source analysis of three land advertisement posters from America, Canada, and Australia in which they will compare the three sources.  From here students will be engaged in a picture analysis, featuring photographs of Native American students before and after going to boarding schools. At this point students will create an argument either that Westward Expansion is or is not a form of Imperialism by using sources from the days lessons, including facts and concepts from the Origin article.

Instructional Strategies:
• Brain Dump
• Venn Diagram Creation
• Mini-Lecture
• Source Analysis
• Picture Analysis
• Four-Corners


Key Words: 
Native Americans, Westward Expansion, Imperialism