FREE - Black Homesteaders on the Great Plains: Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

by  Homestead National Historical Park

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The call of free land offered Black Americans a welcome reprieve from a cycle of poverty driven by sharecropping and racialized violence in the South. The Homestead Act of 1862 helped at least 3400 Black farmers build homes across the Great Plains. Homesteading attracted groundbreaking independent Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux and agronomist and inventor George Washington Carver. Black homesteaders also founded intentional communities like Nicodemus, Kansas, where they built businesses, schools and churches and held elected offices at the local and state level. Their perseverance and grit helped Nicodemus not only survive but later become a National Historic Site run by the National Park Service. In this lesson, student will learn from a park ranger how Black Americans gained life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through homesteading. 

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45 min, though we will modify the length to suit your needs.

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Teacher(s)/Educator(s), Parent, Adult Learners, Homeschool/Family , Learning PodPublic Library: Library Patrons, Library Staff

Minimum participants:

No minimum

Maximum participants:

We prefer less than 30 students, but will accommodate your requests.

Primary Disciplines

Economics/Business, Language Arts/English, Leadership, Problem Solving, Social and Emotional Learning( SEL), Social Studies/History

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)
Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, etc...)
Google Hang Out
Microsoft Teams

Booking Information

We are offering this program year round by request.

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Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

Please cancel at least 48 hours before your scheduled program.

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Homestead National Historical Park

Beatrice, NE
United States

The Homestead Act of 1862 transformed the world. Millions were invited to file claims including, families, immigrants, single women, and freed slaves. Over 10 percent of the United States was homesteaded! The land, long inhabited by American Indian cultures, changed forever. Homesteaders created settlements and farms, drove industrial advancement, and built our nation chasing the American Dream.

Education Program Specialist

Program Details


1.. This program will begin with an introduction to the NPS
2. We then discuss the difficulties that Black Americans faced in the south post-Reconstruction
3, We next explore how the Homestead Act of 1862 offered a new start for Black homesteaders
4. Then we discuss the various experiences of independent homesteaders on the Great Plains
5. Next we discuss the building of the intentional community of Nicodemus, KS
6. We then highlight the economic and environmental challenges homesteaders faced in Nicodemus
7. We end with a recap of the importance of Black homesteading on the Great Plains


1.. Expand understanding of the homestead story to highlight Black homesteaders
2. Broaden our idea of migration in the United States to include Black farmers leaving the south
3. Discuss the different experiences of homesteading independently and in communities
4. Reflect on how homesteading offered Black Americans new access to the American Dream
5. Explain why the National Park Service made Nicodemus a National Historic Site

Standards Alignment

National Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.11-12.RI.1 -- Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.6-8.WHST.9 -- Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.6.RL.2 -- Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.6.SL.3 -- Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.6.W.1c -- Use words, phrases, and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.9-10.L.4 -- Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9–10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

State Standards

Nebraska State Social Studies Standards:
SS 6.1.2.a Describe ways individuals participate in the political process
SS 6.2.1.b Examine how social and governmental decisions impact economic well-being
SS 6.3.4.a Compare and contrast characteristics of groups of people/settlements.
SS 7.2.4.a Compare and contrast characteristics of different socio-economic groups in economic systems.
SS 7.2.5.a Define the government's role in various economic systems.
SS 7.3.2.b Interpret the impact of land and water features on human decisions.
SS 7.4.2.a Analyze evidence from multiple perspectives and sources to better understand the complexities of world history.
SS 8.1.1.c Examine the development of foundational laws and other documents in the United States government
SS 8.1.2.d Describe how cooperation and conflict among people have contributed to political, economic, and social events and situations in the United States.
SS 8.3.2.a Evaluate physical and human characteristics of places and regions.
SS 8.4.1.a Evaluate the impact of people, events, and ideas, including various cultures and ethnic groups, on the United States.
SS 8.4.2 Use multiple perspectives to evaluate the historical, social, and cultural context of past and current events.
SS HS.2.8.b Evaluate the effectiveness of government policies altering market outcomes.
S HS.3.2.b Examine the importance of places and regions to individual and social identity and how identities change over space and time
SS HS.3.4.a Compare trends in human migration, urbanization, and demographic composition at a local, national, and global scale over time and short-term and long-term causes and effects.
SS HS.4.1.a (US) Evaluate the cause and effect of historical events on various groups in the United States.
SS HS.4.1.b (US) Select, record, and interpret key national events in chronological order.
SS HS.4.2.a (US) Identify and evaluate how considering multiple perspectives facilitates an understanding of history.
SS HS.4.3 (US) Examine historical events from the perspectives of marginalized and underrepresented groups.