Whose Destiny? Viewing America's Westward Expansion through Artful Eyes

byMeg Deweese

"Whose Destiny? Viewing America's Westward Expansion through Artful Eyes" is a curriculum unit of lesson plans designed for teachers of students in grade 8 or above who want to provide a variety of instructional strategies through which their students can learn about manifest destiny and American westward expansion. By focusing on the art and artists of the nineteenth century who portrayed the west, students will gain significant critical analysis strategies in order to examine and derive historical meaning from these important and still relevant works. From analysis, collaboration, discussion models, and several writing activities, students will be able to thoughtfully determine the various motivations and rationales of this massive movement west and the ultimate displacement of the indigenous Native Americans. Structured around a culminating visit to a local art museum, where students will view the actual paintings studied, this unit includes an exhaustive list of art works for any classroom as well as numerous other resources that will help make this event come to life for students, enabling them to decide for themselves what role manifest destiny, and the art works portrayed during this time, had on Native Americans and the American nation itself.

(Developed for U. S. History 1754-1870, grade 8; recommended for U. S. History, grades 6-12)

Comments (1)

    Caitlin Orintas (Telluride Mountain School, Telluride, CO)
    Subject taught: All Subjects, Grade: 4
    Thank you!
    Thank you so much for this very thoughtful, thorough, and innovative unit. I am so excited use your framework and modify it for my 4th graders who are studying Manifest Destiny and life in the American West in this. Now more than ever, we must provide the whole story and illuminate all perspectives. I was curious to learn more about the supporting materials that you use for the introductory Talking Statues activity. When you interview the students, do they have notes provided by the teacher to read from or are you expecting them to make inferences and improvise their answers? Thanks!

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