Greg Smith

A deeper look into Andrew Jackson’s treatment of Native Americans is always a powerful moment in the development of students’ questioning of public officials and the words they speak.

We use “Andrew Jackson and the ‘Children of the Forest’” as part of a mock trial. By the end of the trial, the light bulbs going off as students compare words with actions. “What did he mean by ‘civilizing’ the natives?” “What does it mean in the era of expanding democracy that people should have perhaps even less faith in their leaders?”

It sets the stage for a continued focus on people’s history and a framework for how to view the rest of U.S. history, especially in the context of 20th century empire-building.