Settler Colonialism

Lesson 1

The first lesson will introduce students to the concept of settler colonialism and how it has developed within the United States. The first part of the lesson focuses on the structural framework of settler colonialism. The second part covers the way that settler colonialism has played out through the residential boarding school system, myths about people like Columbus and the Pilgrims, Native American Mascots and Manifest Destiny. 


Wolfe_Settler Colonialism

8 myths and atrocities about Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day

The True Story of Pocahontas: Historical Myths Versus Sad Reality

The Biggest Lies We Teach American Kids About Thanksgiving and Native Americans

Examples of Settler Colonialism:

In class activity: Students will split up into small groups to look at the various ways that settler colonialism has shown up in US society. If you are interested in a topic that is not covered below, you are more than welcome to do your own research into settler colonialism and bring in your own sources for class.

Trail of Tears


“As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs” A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

How Native Americans Struggled to Survive on the Trail of Tears

Manifest Destiny 


Residential Boarding Schools


Government Boarding Schools Separated Native American Families

The Traumatic Legacy of Indian Boarding Schools



Native American Mascots


Native American Mascots Really Do Reinforce Stereotypes



Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you describe settler colonialism? How does it show up? How has it changed over time?
  2. Was the information about Columbus,or Matoaka new to you? Why do you think you might now have known this information before?
  3. What are the different ways in which the government and settlers have committed genocide against Native Americans? How were children used?
  4. How have settlers tried to replace Native Americans? How do settlers appropriate Native American symbols? (Think about dreamcatchers, feathers, arrows, tribal tattoos, etc…)
  5. Do you think it is possible to end settler colonialism? What would that mean? What would it look like?