A Leadership Chart for California Tribes

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Subjects Image: 
Grades: 3rd - 5th Grade
Lesson: 1
Unit: 4: Building a positive future in Indian communities
Subject: History/Social Studies
Additional Subject: Science
Achievement Goal: Create a diagram or chart of tribal government and tribal leaders. Identify those who help make land and water policies.
Time: One class period
Lesson Resources:

Lesson Description:
States Image: 

Students draw a diagram of the structure of the tribal government and talk to a tribal leader about how they make decisions about the land.

Teacher Background:

Tribal leaders have a very diverse set of roles and responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is
to direct stewardship of the land. Current land policy will determine the future of land
availability and use. In this lesson, the students should begin to understand who tribal leaders are and how they make decisions about the land.


Associated California State Academic Content Standards
For general guidelines for aligning discussions and writing assignments with English-Language
Arts Standards, see Using Lessons of Our California Land to Help Students Meet California State Content Standards.

History-Social Science

Teachers can use this lesson to help students meet the following

  • 3.2 Students describe the American Indian nations in their local region long ago and in the recent past.
  • 3.4.5 Describe the ways in which California, the other states, and sovereign American Indian tribes contribute to the making of our nation and participate in the federal system of government.
  • 4.4.5 Describe the components of California's governance structure (e.g., cities and towns, Indian rancherias and reservations, counties, school districts).

With its consideration of American Indian nations as sovereign governments, this lesson will also help Grade Five students explain the significance of the new Constitution of 1787, including its commerce clause.

Teacher Preparation Resources:
  • Arrange for a classroom visit by someone from the tribal government (if possible; see “A Teacher’s Guide to Community Engagement” listed in the Lesson Resources section.
  • Gather materials from a local tribal office about tribal leaders and the structure of the tribal government.
  • Coordinate student internet access to tribal government website.
  • For additional background information, see “North Fork Mono Meadow Restoration, Fire, and Water: The Tribe’s Land and Water Rights and Tenure” listed in the Lesson Resources section.
Student Activity:
  1. Discuss with the students the role of tribal government in protecting tribal people and land.
  2. Ask the students if any have family members who are now, or have been, tribal leaders.
  3. Ask the students if they know the names of current tribal leaders.
  4. Have a guest from the tribal government come to the class and speak about tribal leaders. Who are they and what are their land-related responsibilities?
  5. Have the students research the tribal website and/or review the tribal office materials to answer the following questions:
    • Who are their tribal leaders?
    • What offices do they hold?
    • What are their main responsibilities?
    • What are the titles of those who work with land management?
  6. Instruct the students to draw a diagram of the structure of the tribal government. If the government has a tribal chair or president, instruct the students to draw a picture of this person. Remind them to leave enough room for drawings of other leaders around this tribal executive.
  7. Instruct the students to draw the other tribal leaders. Instruct the students that the diagram should tell something about the structure of the tribal government. For example, if the tribal chair must work with a tribal council, the students should somehow connect the offices in their drawing. If other people such as the head of the Natural Resource Department are appointed by the tribal council, that office should somehow be connected to the tribal council. The students may also want to draw something that shows what each leader does.
  8. Ask the students to write the name of the tribal leader and the name of their position next to their picture on the chart.
  1. Evaluate the students’ charts and drawings to determine if they understand how leaders work together and what their jobs are.
  2. Evaluate students based on California standards and the Achievement Goal for this lesson.


Lesson Resources:

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