Nisga'a Land Claim Perspective or Decisions, Decisions!

Learning Outcome addressed

  1. Explain how Canadians can effect change at the federal and provincial levels and
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the challenges faced by Aboriginal people in Canada during the 20th century and their responses with reference to treaty negotiations.

Enduring Understandings

  1. The trend in history is for the bigger nation to suppress the smaller.
  2. Individuals and minorities make a difference.

Essential Questions

  1. What did the Nisga'a want the treaty to provide for their Nation?
  2. How did the Nisga’a begin to pursue and effect change without resorting to violence over the more than 100 years it took to come to a land claim agreement?

Suggested Time

75 minutes


see links embedded in the activities below

Suggested Activities

  1. Discuss the Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions
  2. View the DVD “The Nisga’a People: Dancing with Both Worlds” to bring to light the Enduring Understanding and Essential Question as written above. Use them to introduce the DVD and the purpose for the studying the entire Unit.
  3. Taking a Position:* Review the DVD from the mention of King George to end of Pierre Trudeau. A compressed version of this 6 minute segment is available here
  4. Before beginning the clips ask students to make short notes on each historical figure and indicated whether they were pro or against the Nisga’a land claims as they view. You may wish students to take notes using a Video Note Taking Sheet
  5. Students can either work in groups or individually to research either King George, Queen Victoria, Dr. Frank Calder, Tom Burger, Prime Minister Borden, Prime Minister Trudeau or Skatin. Information gleaned about the historical figures' personalities and strong beliefs would be of the most interest. Each group/individual can share their information with the class and provide a note-taking framework for the rest of the class to record information. The frame work could be a simple as one sheet with a division for beliefs, important decisions, or personalities, or as detailed as a timeline with dates listed and spaces left for note-taking or even a simple visual framework.
  6. Divide class into groups of 3 or 4 and ask them to read the handout on Chief Joseph Gosnell's Speech at the Final Agreement Initialling Ceremony, 1998, and Chief Dan George's Speech from 1967. Have the students read each speech and identify: the intended audience, the intended message, and what historical facts/experiences are revealed. You might want to tell the students that Chief Gosnell made two unsuccessful attempts to petition the government of BC in 1879 and in 1913. (Chief Dan George Speech) (Chief Joseph Gosnell Speech )
  7. Using Chief Goswell's and Chief Dan George's speeches have the groups: analyze the imagery and artistry in each speech (alliteration, imagery); and/or create visual representations of the imagery in each speech using graphic software on the computer; and/or prepare a comparison chart identifying commonalities and differences in each speech.


  1. Write a Journal entry as a historical figure in the treaty process.
  2. Work with a member of the opposing view to create a short discussion
  3. Prepare to read your discussion to the class in the form of a Reader's Theatre


Have you ever made a decision that would be argued strongly against or for? As a historical figure, you are asked to complete a journal that gives your thoughts, reasons and ideas for a decision you made on the Nisga’a land claims.


You will be reading your argument for your decision with a partner who has a different point of view from you. In partners, you will be performing Reader’s Theatre with your partner in front of the class and teacher.


The historical figures who supported the Nisga’a land claim were:
Skatine, King George, Tom Berger, and Dr. Frank Calder. Queen Victoria was neutral and Prime Minister Borden and Prime Minister were against the land claims.


You will create a journal that records your thoughts to be later read to the teacher and class members. You will read with your partner reading before or after you, using a Reader’s Theatre format. You might practice reading so that you read with the appropriate expression, because this will be part of our evaluation.


Standards / Success Criteria

See suggested Rubrics for this activity
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