95 pages 3 hours read

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Jean Mendoza, Debbie Reese

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People

Nonfiction | Book | YA | Published in 2019

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Essay Questions

Use these essay questions as writing and critical thinking exercises for all levels of writers, and to build their literary analysis skills by requiring textual references throughout the essay.

Differentiation Suggestion: For English learners or struggling writers, strategies that work well include graphic organizers, sentence frames or starters, group work, or oral responses.

Scaffolded Essay Questions

Student Prompt: Write a short (1-3 paragraph) response using one of the below bulleted outlines. Cite details from the text over the course of your response that serve as examples and support.

1. Dunbar-Ortiz prioritizes the term “Indigenous people” over “American Indians” or “Native Americans.”

  • How does using language bestowed on Indigenous people by other cultures, like “American Indians” and “Native Americans” minimize the agency and humanity of Indigenous people? (topic sentence)
  • Examine the various terms used for Indigenous people. What points made in the text show the ways in which they are problematic?
  • In your concluding sentences, sum up the connection between language as a tool and theme of the colonialist legacy.

2. The Founding Fathers and early presidents in the United States largely viewed Indigenous people as “primitive” and “savage,” and those views were embedded in their various political policies.

  • How can examining the logic and motive of major early American figures help one to better understand the enduring legacy of colonialism and its racist origin? (topic sentence)
  • Name and discuss 3-4 major early American figures and their policies that served to displace Indigenous people.