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6-12 Curriculum Unit

Native American Boarding School Curriculum: Chilocco Indian Agricultural School 6th to 8th grade and 9th to 12th grade

Lisa Lynn Brooks, Ph.D.


This curriculum unit contains a series lessons targeted at 6th- 8th and 9th -12th grade students in Oklahoma and beyond. The curriculum units are devised to elicit critical thinking, like that promoted by the Stanford History Education Group, teach appropriate skills based on national standards, and promote an Indigenous perspective of history. This work also relies on essential questions as a framework to guide the student through the inquiry unit.

The essential questions, related to the purpose and impact of Indian boarding schools and their subsequent reforms, are assessed in multiple ways throughout the unit. A student engaged in this curriculum is guided through an overview of the curriculum’s purpose and process by the teacher before engaging in a series of videos and embedded resources housed on the OOHRP’s web page. Students will move between explanatory videos and embedded primary and secondary sources on the Educator’s Resources tab of the Chilocco website. These materials are experienced either as a whole class on a large projector or from individual Chromebooks common in most classrooms. The videos and embedded resources clearly marked in sequential order are then used in small or large group activities. Student understanding is assessed through their analysis and exploration of multiple perspectives of history. It is strongly suggested to use exit tickets or demonstration of learning activities after each lesson to assess student progress. Materials include the framework of the curriculum unit in an Understanding by Design (UBD) structure that clearly outlines the objectives, student learning, materials, and sequential order of the individual lessons.

The purpose of this curriculum is to meet the needs of the OOHRP and the Chilocco Indian Agriculture School in promoting the history and experiences documented in archival and oral history research. This proposed curriculum engages students, through inquiry, with the evolving history and experiences at Chilocco. Through a historical lens, this curriculum balances its focus on assimilative practices of the federal government, including militarization of the boarding school space with an evolving perspective of how Chilocco, in later years, became a space reclaimed by students and tribes to further their educational values and contribute to the growth of their tribes and the state.

Curriculum Unit Overview:

This curriculum contains three overarching sections containing various individual lessons per unit. The first unit focuses on a background to the history of Indian removal and the creation of Indian Territory and statehood and the formation of Chilocco in 1884 until the 1930’s. The second unit focuses on the beginning of Chilocco from 1930’s to the 1960’s. The final unit focuses on the evolution of Chilocco from the 1960’s to Chilocco’s closure in 1980. Teachers should be able to locate the evolution of Chilocco in relation to the Great Depression and World Wars I and II.

Curriculum Objectives

  • To examine how Indian education legacies exist in multiple and conflicting ways.
  • To portray a complicated history; how positive and negative experiences can exist simultaneously and complicate our view of history.
  • To explore the assimilation practices of the federal government in Indian Boarding schools. To analyze the use of military practices of Chilocco and the role of the National Guard in the school’s later years.
  • To explore the nature of youth resistance to assimilation forces while reinforcing tribal culture.
  • To analyze the change in policies and practices in Chilocco before and after the Meriam and Kennedy reports.
  • To identify through a historical look at Chilocco, a connection to modern Native identity.

Time Frame

Each of the three section of the unit will take from three to five days to complete based on time spent in class each day. The information is largely chronological, but the units could be taught in isolation depending on the needs of the teacher. The unit, in its entirety, would most easily fit into a four week period.


Assessment for this unit is shaped by use of primary and secondary sources to evaluate hypotheses and assess student usage of evidence to make and refute claims. Assessment of this type poses extra challenges for the teacher, but ultimately provides a more dynamic view of student learning and a more rewarding classroom experience for everyone. Many times, units, such as this, can assess student learning through written arguments found in state and Common Core standards throughout the nation. ELA teachers using research, claims, and evidence as building blocks in an argumentative essay workshop will be able to utilize this unit to create a rich and layered course of study. Daily formative assessments like exit tickets and demonstration of learning activities can provide meaningful data about student progress towards your daily objectives.

Please note: It is especially important to rely on assessments that require evidence based claims when dealing with topics about the historical and current Native American experience. Misinformation and misunderstanding can interfere with gaining a larger view of Native students at Indian Boarding schools. The documentary, oral histories, maps and charts provided in this unit are by no means conclusive or the experience of every student at every Indian boarding school.

Download the 6-12 curriculum.