INDIANS OF THE CANAL
By Jill Bowman, S. Foster
School #67, Indianapolis, Indiana; July, 1998
Topic: Indians of northern
Indiana before the canals were built.
Estimated time: 3 - half hour sessions
Grade levels: K - 5
Purpose: To introduce students
to the Indian tribes of central and northern Indiana
Geography Standards addressed:
SPATIAL CONCEPTS: 1. How to use
maps and other geographic representations,
PLACES: 4. The physical and human
characteristics of places,
HUMAN SYSTEMS: 9. The characteristics,
distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface, 12.
The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement. 13. How
the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division
and control of Earth's surface,
ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY: 14. How
human actions modify the physical environment,
USES OF GEOGRAPHY: 17. How to apply
geography to interpret the past.
Objectives: Upon completion
of this activity, students will be able to
Background: There were numerous
Woodland tribes living in Indiana during the period just before the building
of the canals (c. 1830's). These tribes were forced to leave their
homelands as the canal became reality across north central Indiana.
Some of these tribes included: the Wea, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Ottawa, and
Name the Indian tribes of northern and central
Give reasons why the pioneers would build
their towns on the same land that the Indians had.
Tell why the Indians were forced to leave
Discuss the value of the canal system.
An Indiana road map for each small group
Large pieces of 18 X 24 construction paper,
crayons or markers
Map of Indiana showing the waterways (both
labeled and unlabeled)
Map of Indiana showing the canals.
Brainstorm a list of Indian terms that the
children know including the names of towns and rivers.
Make sure everyone understands the terms from
#1and that words such as wikkiup and canoe are included.
n small groups, draw an Indian village.
Children should be sure to include (or construct) a waterway and any other
physical feature the group wishes. It must include a river, five
houses (wikkiups), a canoe, a council house, and the name.
Use the Indiana map showing the waterways.
Discuss where the Indians might have lived in Indiana in the early days.
Have children place their village names on the map.
Then, discuss the map of Indiana which shows
the route of the various canals.
Overlay a map of the state showing the major
cities at this time. Discuss the relationship of the pioneer Europeans
to the Native Americans at this time in history.
Why did the Indians build their villages
How did the pioneers change the Indian
Did the pioneers build their towns at
the same places that the Indians had? Why?
Grade the Indian villages informally based
on the criteria listed in procedure in #3.
Have children write a picture letter to
a friend. They should tell about life in their village.
Celebrate their villages by displaying
the maps and stories in a central
location of the school.
Indiana maps are available through the
IUPUI office of Cartographic Services or on-line.