Lesson Overview (III)

Lesson Snapshot:

Grade Levels: 9 – Undergraduate

Suggested Time: 2-3 class periods

One period for class activity. One period for discussion/debrief and follow-up.


Learning Objectives

Through exploring the history of local residents, beginning with native land dispossession through to black displacement, students gain knowledge of how the ownership of land and property has changed through deliberate design over time.

Core Themes

    • Dakota people populated the Minneapolis for thousands prior to white European settlers
    • Black families owned property all over Minneapolis prior to the mid-20th century
    • De Jure and De Facto mechanisms of segregation and displacement were used throughout the region’s history securing land for white people.
    • These instances of violent dispossession highlight a pattern of historical expulsions and exclusions that explain the lack of inherited wealth in black and brown communities.

Critical Questions

    • Who originally lived in Minneapolis?
    • Where do they live now? Why?
    • How did white people end up owning most of the land (and the most valuable land) in Minneapolis?
    • Why is this important?
    • Statistical Displacement Markers (map)
    • Minneapolis racial homeownership gap:
      • 23% of Black Minnesotans own their home (50% disparity)
      • 43% of Native Americans own their home (32% disparity)
      • 75% of white Minnesotans own theirs
        [data according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2015 records]


Resource Overview

Where we live and our access to a consistent home has far-reaching impacts on our lives. But claims to this fundamental human need have been intentionally and violently stolen, threatened, and restricted. Through flagrant forms of violent dispossession to thinly veiled legal mechanisms of removal, the urban landscape was designed to benefit white people via the oppression of people of color. The patterns we see in present access to home, land, and property have been deliberately and carefully crafted over generations.


This lesson attempts to unpack this history by offering a case study in land theft, dispossession, and displacement in southwest Minneapolis. In this small scale urban example, the truth of displacement by design is told by tracking the evolution of this geography and its residents. The historical examples offered in this lesson may seem like extreme cases of violent dispossession, but they highlight a pattern of historical expulsions and exclusions that explain the lack of inherited wealth in black and brown communities. Students are pushed to ask the questions: “Who was here?” “Who is here now?” and “Why?”


This lesson focuses on unpacking the information and themes found in the Displaced digital map.



The Mapping Prejudice Curriculum Copyright © by Marguerite Mills. All Rights Reserved.

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