Indian Wars

Area 4: The United States During the Civil War (1850s-1860s) 
Question: How did the Civil War fundamentally alter the nation?

This illustration of the Fetterman Fight was published in Harper's Weekly in March 1867, three months after the event. Library of Congress.

Lesson Plan Developed By 
Michael Redman, St. Stephens Indian School, St. Stephens, Wyo.

Grade Level 

Content Area(s) 
Social Studies 

Learning Objective(s)

  1. Students will gain a fuller understanding of the clashes between Native Americans and Euro-American newcomers to North America, from the early 1600s to the late 1800s.
  2. Using maps showing Native territories from early times to the present, students will understand how much land natives lost during that time.
  3. Students will consider larger questions: Were the Indian Wars necessary? Who won? Could they have been avoided? Why or why not?

Wyoming Social Studies Standards, with 2018 Additions

Click here to see a spreadsheet aligning Wyoming State Social Studies and Common Core Standards for this and other digital toolkits of Wyoming History.

We will update the standards spreadsheet as more lesson plans are developed.

One 90-Minute class period or 
two 45-minute class periods

Materials Required 

KWL chart


  • American-Indian Wars, A brief overview.
  • American Indian Wars, Wikipedia. A much more thorough article. Students should read the introductory paragraphs, the introduction to “West of the Mississippi (1811-1924)” and, time permitting, the sections titled “Background,” “Great Basin,” “Great Plains,” “Colorado War, Sand Creek Massacre and the Sioux War of 1865,” and “Black Hills War.”

Lesson Plan


  • 5 minutes: Doorbell question: What comes to mind when you hear the word “Indian Wars”?

Step by step directions

  • 5 minutes: Watch video- 
  • 45 minutes: Students will read the articles from and Wikipedia, linked above.
  • 10 minutes: Define 10 vocabulary words: Indian wars, First Nations, indigenous peoples, conflict, alliance, homeland, retaliation, genocide, treaty and peace.
  • 10 minutes: students will choose 5 vocabulary words and write their own complete sentences using the vocabulary words.
  • 10 minutes: Students will have a 10-minute discussion. (Suggest topics)
  • 5 minutes: Students will complete their KWL chart.


  • Collect their KWL charts; further discussion as needed.