Lesson 4 by Vincent Spano

LESSON TITLE : Joseph Brant and the American Revolution

Painting of Joseph Brant, 1776, by George Romney. Wikimedia Commons. 


TIME:  80 minutes (2 class periods)


  1. Students will conceptualize American expansion through the perspective of the Six Nations as seen by Joseph Brant.
  2. Students will recognize the differences in perspective between Joseph Brant and dominant American officials.
  3. Students will conceptualize the notion of displacement vis a vis progressexpansion and independence.


  1. FOR: Introduction; What does the word revolution mean? Rebellion?
  2. AS: Observe and make anecdotal notes on engagement with primary sources.


  • Concepts such as displacement, revolution, rebellion, loyalty and perspective will be considered using the 6 Nations efforts during the American Revolution.
  • Content and disciplinary concepts will be considered and applied using a primary source testimony made by Joseph Brant in London, as well as a secondary source memoir of Joseph Brant authored in 1872
  • Students will also critically engage with a primary source developed by an American author who attempts to leverage the 6 Nations onto their side of the war. This document precedes Brant’s speech.


This unit will focus on building both content knowledge and skills with the students. Diagnostic assessments/observations will ensure that prior knowledge on the outcome of the American Revolution is shared. In terms of content, it is expected that students know about the transition from New France to British North America, and the impact that this transition had on Indigenous populations. Students will also rely on their prior knowledge with engaging with primary sources in order to engage with these primary sources with a critical lens.


Use of maps, class read alouds with frequent debriefs.


Speech Made by Joseph Brant http://www.bartleby.com/268/8/2.html

Journals of the Continental Congress – Speech to the Six Nations; July 13, 1775


Joseph Brant Biography http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/thayendanegea_5E.html

Memoir of Joseph Brant https://archive.org/details/cihm_11032

Political Map 1774 http://canadahistoryproject.ca/images/images-1774/intro-map.png

5 Nations Map http://www.jannaludlow.co.uk/Assets/Ang_7_Count_5_NationsMap.jpg


Minds On: (5 minutes)

What is the difference between Revolution and Rebellion? Brief discussion will be summarized on an anchor chart.                                 

Critical Question: (1 minute)

What are the implications of an American Revolution for Indigenous populations, and what informs the perspectives of Indigenous peoples? We will investigate the impacts of this war through the example of Joseph Brant.

Action: 70 minutes

Students will be provided online and hardcopy access (based on needs and length) to primary and secondary sources as well as maps (outlined in the resource section of this lesson). Students are encouraged to find other supporting documents to inform their engagement with the topic: British, Americans, First Nations and French Canadians on the war. Present on chart paper.


1. What informs Indigenous perspectives of the war?

2.How are these perspectives different from American ones? Based on the sources encountered?

3.Is Joseph Brant the best case study to understand the Indigenous perspective? Why or why not?

4.How does a revolution for some displace and impact the freedom of others according to the sources?

Consolidation: 5 minutes

Pose the Critical Question to the class and allow for discussion of the Critical Question: What are the implications of an American Revolution for Indigenous populations, and what informs the perspectives of Indigenous peoples?


Find an article online or in the newspaper about a global conflict which contains more than one perspective on the conflict. Question: what are the disagreements between the perspectives? Does the newspaper seem to favour one perspective over the other?

Contributing Writer

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