Coulee Dam Lesson

Coulee Dam Lesson

Grade Level:

9, 10, 11, 12

Scope & Sequence:



The students will be able to understand the workings of the Spokane River – prior to Coulee Dam


The students will be able to understand the impact of the Spokane River (prior to the Coulee Dam) on the Spokane Tribal People.

Spokane Tribal Values

STOI Connection:

  • Fishing
  • Ancestral way of life
  • Seasonal route
  • River camps
  • Store outside your door

Spokane Tribal Values

  • Generosity
  • Land-environment
  • Community
  • Family
  • Spirituality


  • Fish weirs
  • Sustenance
  • Distribution
  • ńpoqińišcn for sharing
  • Canneries
  • Decimation
  •  ńpoqińišcn for rivers, river terms, water, etc.
  • Invasive species
  • Agricultural

Lesson Plan

The teacher will:

  • Introduce vocabulary and definitions – students will make a list with definitions
  • Grand Coulee Dam History – (
  • Teacher will print this document and pass out to students.
  • Students will annotate the text as the teacher reads and discusses.

Guiding Questions:

  • How has the Dam impacted the State overall?
  • What are the Dam benefits?
    • Bridges across river
    • Electricity for Tribal members


  • Debate pros and cons of settling with U.S. government at this time.
  • Write a letter to Congressman in support of the Spokane Tribe for their Coulee Dam Settlement.


  • Give students a poem from Children Left Behind: The Dark Legacy of Indian Mission Boarding Schools to analyze and reflect/connect
  • Alexie, S. (xxxx). Ghosts of salmon jumping poem…
  • Stories of pre-Coulee Dam solicited from Tribal members

Materials Needed:

  • Article from website above
  • Map of original river route (<– not sure of word?)
  • Pictures of river before dams
  • Map of crossings locations


Lesson PDF Download

Related Videos

Related Images

Community Resources

Lesson Assigned To:

  • Social Studies Skills 5.2.1 Creates and uses research questions that are tied to an essential question to focus inquiry an idea, issue, or event.
  • Geo: 3.2.2 Understands and analyzes examples of ethnocentrism.


Common Core Standards

RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

Spokane Tribal Standards