Learning About Our Lands: A Lesson Plan

ABOUT THIS LESSON PLAN

This lesson plan, designed for middle and high-school students living on the Pine Ridge Reservation, provides teachers with ideas and procedures for engaging students in learning about their lands using the free web-based Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS). The PRLIS, developed by Village Earth and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Land office with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, is an easy to use tool for Lakota land owners to access information about their lands and resources.

The Pine Ridge Land Information System is a free web-based land information resource for the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The PRLIS makes it possible for anyone with an internet connection to:

  • Search for individually allotted and Tribal owned trust lands using the Tract ID.
  • See a map of the individual 1887 Allotments
  • View, print and share a web link for the boundaries of specific land tracts.
  • View Pine Ridge lands with various base layers including Google and Bing aerial photography, Google and Bing roads, Google and Bing Hybrid, and terrain.
  • View a Landsat TM Image which can be used to assess the management and of lands on Pine Ridge.
  • View a map of the Range Units that are leased across Pine Ridge.
  • View the  Boundaries of the Reservation as defined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties.

While this lesson plan can be taught on its own, it is recommended that it be used to complement the free “Lessons of Our Land” curriculum developed by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, which focuses more on the history, culture and current issues pertaining to Indian land. Note: This lesson plan encourages students to research their family’s lands on Pine Ridge. However, for privacy reasons, students should not be required to make information about their family’s land available to the teacher or other students. If students or parents are uncomfortable with this then teachers can assign allotment names and tract ID numbers from the PRLIS for students to use for these assignments so they can still learn how to use the PRLIS.  Later, if they choose, they can use this procedure to research their family’s lands.  

COGNITIVE OBJECTIVES 

  • Enhanced appreciation for the knowledge held by their elders.
  • Greater sense of hope for one-day being able utilize their lands.
  • Enhanced confidence when talking about their rights and resources.

PRACTICAL OBJECTIVE

  • Greater knowledge about lands allotted to their ancestors, the history of those lands, the interests that may or may not remain today and how they are currently being used.
  • Collect oral histories from elders in their family to identify the original allottees and the histories of their lands.
  • Locate and print a map of the original allotments using the Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS)
  • Learn how to request and read a Trust Interest Report
  • Learn how to search for their lands on the PRLIS using the Tract ID numbers located on their Interest Report.
  • Print-out maps of their family’s original allotment and current land holdings.
  • Use the PRLIS to identify how their lands are being used.
  • Go and see their lands in-person to confirm land-use.
  • Understand their rights for accessing and utilizing the lands.
  • Request a chain of title report from the BIA.

PROCEDURE

Begin with a brief introductory discussion about reservation lands. Below is a sample discussion but feel free to create your own questions? The purpose is to focus attention and engage the students in the topic and issues.

Opening: “Today, we are going to start some exercises that will help us gain a better understanding of our lands here on the Pine Ridge Reservation and introduce us to some tools that will enable us to locate and print out maps of those lands.” However, I would like to learn a more about what you already know when it comes to our lands.

Question 1: “Please raise your hand if your family has an interest in some land here on the reservation?” “How many students don’t know if your family has lands or not?”

Question 2: “Those of you who know you have land, does anyone know where your family’s land is located and what it is being used for?”

Question 3: “Does anyone know what law back in 1887 divided our lands into allotments?” Answer: The General Allotment Act (GAA) also known as the Dawes Severalty Act.

Closing: Over the next couple of weeks, we will learn more about the Dawes Act and the history of the lands that were allotted to our families.

Lesson 1: Researching Our Original Allotments

For this exercise students will research the names of their ancestors who were originally allotted lands on the Pine Ridge Reservation. They will then use the PRLIS to locate and print-out a map of their original allotments.

  1. Instruct students to talk to family members to create a family tree to identify who in their family were originally allotted land under the GAA. Students should do this even if their family doesn’t have any remaining interests of land on the Reservation.  Students should also ask their relatives where the original allotments were located. An approximate  location (“out near Slim Buttes” or “by Wanblee”) is sufficient. Depending on the grade level, they could either return this information as a simple list or formatted written report.
  2. In the computer lab, show students how to use the PRLIS to locate their family’s original allotments.
  3. Go to www.lakotalands.net/prlis
  4. Turn on the Original Allotments layer under the “Historical Maps” folder. Note: The layer is only visible when zoomed in at 1:217K or higher.
  5. Have students search the map until they find their family’s allotments. Once found, have them print-out a map using the print button on the PRLIS.

 Discussion Questions

Question 1: Ask students to raise their hands if they were able to locate their family’s original allotments (or one assigned to them).

Question 2: How many of you already knew where these lands were located?

Question 3: How does if feel to see a map of these lands, maybe for the first time?

Question 4: What questions does this raise for you about these lands? (The teacher doesn’t have to know the answer but write these down as possible class research projects).

Future Research Projects

Lesson 2: Researching Our Existing Lands

In this exercise we will learn how to read a Individual Trust Interest ITI Report, locate the Tract ID #’s for our lands, the interest we own in a particular tract of land and then locate them using the PRLIS.

  1. Teachers should download a sample ITI Report from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation’s website at http://www.iltf.org/resources/individual-trust-interest-report. If teachers have access to a LCD projector they can display the report as well as the dynamic pop-up descriptions for each section of the report.
  2. Teachers should walk students through each section of the ITI report. (It’s recommended that teachers familiarize themselves with this document prior presenting it in class).
  3. Pass out copies of the ITI Report in class and have students circle where the Tract ID # is located, where to find the size in acres of that tract, and how to calculate the total number of acres they are allotted using the “FRACTION OF TRACT AS ACQUIRED” (Example: 1/90 x 160 acres = 1.7 acres).
  4. Invite students to request a copy of their ITI Report from their relatives. If their relatives don’t have a copy of their report, they can request one for free from the Office of Special Trustee Toll free (888) 678-6836. Note: The report usually takes 1 to 2 weeks to be delivered.
  5. If students are unable or unwilling to provide a report, teachers should assign tract ID number to them.
  6. In the computer lab, have students search for their Tract ID’s in the PRLIS. Be sure that the “Parcels” layers is turned on. Note: Parcels layer is only visible when zoomed-in at 1:54k or higher. Once found, have them print-out a map using the print button on the PRLIS.
  7. Ask students to report on how the lands are currently being used. The PRLIS provides other layers for researching this. For more information go to http://lakotalands.net/?page_id=35

Question 1: Ask students to raise their hands if they were able to locate their family’s current interests (or one assigned to them).

Question 2: How many of you already knew where these lands were located?

Question 3: How many of you are currently living on or utilizing one or more of these lands?

Question 3: How does if feel to see a map of these lands, maybe for the first time?

Question 4: What questions does this raise for you about these lands? (The teacher doesn’t have to know the answer but write these down as possible class research projects).

Future Research Projects

Students can learn about the various options for their lands in the Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book at http://www.iltf.org/sites/default/files/pine_ridge_map_book.pdf

 

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