Historical Scene Investigations

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How did Native Americans and European explorers impact each other?

The case

Florida 1564

Contact with European explorers changed the lives of Native Americans in many different ways. Did the lives of Europeans also change as a result?

Your job is to examine and analyze evidence in order to learn about the effects of contact on both groups.

 

Becoming a detective

Examine Source 1 and Source 2 (listed at upper left), images of Native American life before European contact.

Working in groups and using your graphic organizer, record as much information as possible about the two images, focusing on this question: "What do you notice about Native American life from these pictures?"

Investigating the evidence

Examine Source 3 and Source 4 (an 1847 painting of Columbus and an exerpt from his journal in 1492) and record your thinking about this question in your journal:

"What do these sources reval about how each side (Columbus and the Native Americans) felt about their first encounter?"

Encounter cover imageRead the book Encounter by Jane Yolen, with these questions in mind:

  • What were the Native Americans' motivations when they first met the Europeans?
  • What were the Europeans' motivations when they first met the Native Americans?
  • How and why does the boy feel differently than the rest of the Native Americans?

In your journal, jot down predictions about the following: What effects do you think the Europeans will have on the Native Americans? What effect do you think the Native Americans will have on the Europeans?

 

Searching for clues

Your teacher will give you a variety of cards with different plants, animals, and food items on them. Your job is to sort them according to whether you think they originally came from the Americas, or from Africa/Asia/Europe. You must also choose two items from each group (Old World and New World); in your journal you will explain why you think these items were from that part of the world.

In groups, read a passage from your textbook (pages 106-110 in Build Our Nation [Houghton Mifflin, 1997) that explains more about the Columbia exchange. You can take turns reading paragraphs out loud and "re-sort" any cards that were incorrectly placed.

Examine Sources 5 (from Gonzolo Oviedo's chronicle of the New World) and Source 6 (from the Florentine Codex), to see what other items originated with Native Americans, and what else Europeans brought with them to the Americas. Be ready to discuss these questions:

  • What was the impact of disease on the population of New Spain?
  • How did slavery affect the Native American way of life? How did it affect the European way of life?

Cracking the case

You have two choices for reporting your findings from this investigation: a RAFT writing piece, or a letter to someone from the past.

 

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