“Can There Ever Really Be Justice on Stolen Land?” Connections, Echoes, and Projections

“Can There Ever Really Be Justice on Stolen Land?” Connections, Echoes, and Projections

Time: 25-35 minutes if providing examples

50-80 minutes with student exploration

Multiple days if used as the launch of a civic action project

“Connections, Echoes, and Projections” extends the themes of the story presented in the Basic Plan to other events and into the future. These resources and activities help students see how we can use an understanding of the past to understand more recent events and imagine a different future.


  • Apply learnings about the Indian Removal Act to understand other historical, local, regional, and global problems and compare and contrast these situations.
  • Make connections to the long-term effects of racism.
  • Plan informed action based on these learnings.

Lesson Plan:

  • Frame the activity:

“Understanding the past helps us think differently about other events and about what we need to do to construct a different future. Specifically, the story of the Indian Removal Act — as well as the other acts of violence that have been committed against Indigenous people — highlight the importance of understanding and sharing Indigenous voices and stories. Additionally, it raises questions about violent acts towards Indigenous peoples which have been ignored or covered up, and about how they continue to impact Indigenous people in modern times. To think about these bigger questions, we’re going to explore connections — direct links to this event — and echoes — different occurrences that have some similarities to what we studied. Then, we’ll apply what we learned to our future actions, or projections.”

  • Have students explore connections and echoes, recording key details and points of comparison/ contrast.

You may provide them with the whole list, or select the one that is most relevant to the questions you wish to explore. A starting resource for each scenario is provided. However, if your students have devices, they could do further independent research, perhaps beginning in any databases your library subscribes to. Suggestions for processing documents and sharing out are also included.


  • Structure:
    • A who/what/where/when/why table for basic facts and a Venn diagram for comparing/contrasting the connections/echoes with the story of the Indian Removal Act.
    • Asking for a 4-3-2-1: 4 facts, 3 differences, 2 similarities, and 1 question.
  • Format
    • A handout or individual document.
    • Having students do this on chart paper to facilitate a gallery walk.
    • Having a class slide show where each topic has its own slide.
      • Optional share out:

If students looked at different examples, share findings through a gallery walk or mini-presentations.

  • Discuss findings in small groups or as a class:
    • What similarities do you see? What differences do you see?
    • What context or details help to explain these differences?
    • How does knowing about the story of the Indian Removal Act help you understand the connections and echoes? How does knowing about the connections and echoes help you understand the Indian Removal Act differently? 
    • What do these examples together teach us about race, equity, and the efforts to address injustices today?
  • Apply to Projections:
    • Frame the transition: “We need to use history to re-imagine what our society can be and to create a better future.”
    • Ask: “How can we use what we’ve learned about the past to make the future more just? In the context of what we have learned what might steps towards justice look like?" If students struggle, break it down depending on what example you explored:
      • How can we acknowledge the trauma that has been perpetrated against Indigenous people throughout American history?
      • How does the relationship between Indigenous people and the US government run deeper than what most people know about? How can we seek out stories about this relationship to understand it better?
  • Extension:
    • Make a more focused plan to use learnings to address an injustice. This could become the base of an in-depth informed action project.