Digital Learning Objective: How does the “Great Father” & the policies of the government affect the Poncas & other Tribal Nations?

Classroom Objectives/Outcomes:

How does the “Great Father” and the policies of the government affect the Poncas and other Tribal Nations?

I can analyze power, authority and government between different groups and nations.

I can describe how nations with differing cultures, economic systems and political systems collaborate to address global problems.

Theme 6: Power, Authority and Governance p. 46-47

Theme 9: Global Connections p. 58-59


identifying main ideas

note taking

problem solving

National Standards:

Adler, Susan A. National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: A Framework for Teaching, Learning and Assessment. Silver Spring, Md: National Council for the Social Studies, 2010. Print.

Assessment Tasks:

1. How does Katie’s job impact Native people?

2. What does “sovereign” mean? 

3. What is the difference between the "wards of the government" and "sovereign nations?”

4.  What aspirations did the Ponca delegates have in their visit to Washington D.C. in November of 1877?

5.  Why would the agent report that all was well?

6.  Did Hayes make good on his promise?  How?


1. She is advocating for rights for Native people (land, hunting, fishing, water rights, etc).

2. Sovereign means that a group of people have authority to make their own laws and enforce them.

3. A “ward of the government” in this sense meant the Tribes were unable to fully govern themselves in the eyes of the U.S. Government--they wanted the Tribes to consider the president their “Great Father.” As sovereign nations, Tribes enjoy a direct government-to-government relationship with the U.S. government wherein no decisions about their lands and people are made without their consent.

4. They wanted to meet the “great father” and ask him for help to allow them to return to their homeland.  They told them of the terrible conditions in Indian Territory and their plight.

5. The agent might have been under pressure to report positive things.  He might not have cared enough to be honest, or maybe he was trying to protect his job by reporting that all things were well.

6.  Yes, but not to return to Nebraska. He allowed the Poncas to pick out a new piece of land in Indian Territory.

Download the "THE GREAT FATHER" Lesson Plan (173KB)