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Classroom Activities 1 2 3 4 5 6 7


Activity 1

• Time needed: approximately 40 minutes
• Students will make perceptive and well-developed connections to prior knowledge.

Historical Context:
Across time, different groups of people have come into contact with each other and have made agreements. These agreements were influenced both by the cultures involved and the issues at hand.

Warm-Up (3-5 min.): Write the word "treaty" on the board, and explain that the class will be exploring this term for the next three days. Ask students to list all they know about treaties in their notebooks. Then call on students and compile a class list of what the students think a treaty is. Write a formal definition of "treaty" on the board.

Making Treaties (40-45 min.): Divide the class into three groups: French, Dutch, and Haudenosaunee. Hand out the activity sheet and explain the scenarios. Tell the students that each group has 40-45 minutes to answer the questions on the handout and prepare to defend their answers.

NOTE: This activity can be adjusted to meet the needs of individual classes. Students may use the Internet or library resources to do more extensive research.

Historical Context:
The Haudenosaunee, the French, and the Dutch all came into varying relationships during the colonial period of New York State. As a result of the different cultures, sets of rules for coexistence were needed so that problems did not occur. Differences in religion, lifestyle, economic system, and philosophy of land ownership all led to turbulent times. One device used to smooth the way was the treaty. Treaties were agreements made with the Haudenosaunee by both the Dutch and the French.

• Students will evaluate and compare their own and others' work with regard to different criteria. They will recognize the change in evaluations that occurs when different criteria are considered to be more important.
– Assign students to small groups. Each group will engage in the treaty-making process with a European or a Haudenosaunee group. Students will have two class periods to research the following topics and decide what they want from the other side. At the end of the process, students will make a treaty with ten disputed areas that both sides agree on. Topics to include are:
– Land
– Laws
– Trade
– Cultural Issues

Areas of dispute

Debrief(20-30 min.): Students will take turns discussing the group list of ten important issues that they have assembled, starting with the Haudenosaunee. After discussion, the teacher will put away the lists for the next day's class.


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Activity 2

Document Analysis Activities

Editor's Note:For years, historians and other educators have understood the value of primary sources in K-12 education. Three key reasons for including primary sources in the curriculum follow:

1. Primary sources help students develop knowledge, skills, and analytical abilities. By dealing directly with primary sources, students ask questions, think critically, make intelligent inferences, and develop reasoned explanations and interpretations of events and issues in the past and present.
2. Primary sources expose students to multiple perspectives on great issues of the past and present. History, after all, deals with matters that were furiously debated by the participants. Interpretations of the past are similarly debated today by historians, policy makers, politicians, and ordinary citizens. By working with primary sources, students can become involved in these debates.
3. Primary source documents often appear in a familiar format. Familiarity encourages students to build on prior knowledge; however, the formats of other documents are less familiar. The very unfamiliarity encourages some students to dig deeper and conduct further research. Students become historians when they question the source of information and consider the original use of artifacts

Document 1
Haudenosaunee tradition says that the two-row wampum is the basis for all subsequent treaties involving the Haudenosaunee and the Europeans. The white field represents peace and friendship. The two purple rows are symbolic of two nations that are separate but equal.

The Wampum Belt Confirms Our Words
Wampum belt

Source: http://www.tuscaroras.com/jtlc/Wampum/The_Two_Row_Wampum.html

Cayuga Chief Jacob Thomas Holding a Replica of a Two-Row Wampum Belt

– What is wampum?

– What was the original purpose of wampum belts?

– What was the main purpose of the two-row wampum belt?

– How is the culture of the Haudenosaunee reflected in the two-row wampum?

– What has been the significance of the two-row wampum over time?

– How does this early treaty affect Iroquois/Non-Iroquois relations today?


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Activity 3

• Students will understand the nature of scarcity and how nations of the world make choices that involve economic and social costs and benefits.

Land was a product of nature, which the Indian appropriated to his own use. It was not considered a commodity to be bought and sold. It could pass from one generation to another through normal hereditary processes, but when a family or an individual ceased to use it the land was re-granted to someone else.

Source: Allen Trelease, Indian Affairs in Colonial New York, 1997, p. 12

– According to the document, what was the Haudenosaunee view of land?

– How did Dutch and Haudenosaunee concepts of land ownership differ?


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Activity 4

• Students will analyze the effectiveness of the varying ways that societies, nations, and regions of the world attempt to satisfy their basic needs and wants by utilizing scarce resources.

Newer and stranger items became increasingly important in the Indians' list of wants. Copper kettles, iron hatchets, and hoes were incomparably more useful than the stone and clay implements presently in use. Coral beads, already colored, immeasurably improved one's personal appearance at little cost in labor or time. Above all, the Indian took to substituting, or at least supplementing, his skin raiment with the coarse woolen cloths known as duffels.

Source: Van Laer, New Netherland Documents, 1629-1626, pp. 223-232

– What trade items did the Haudenosaunee want from the Europeans?

– How did the introduction of the specific items mentioned in the passage above change the lives of the Haudenosaunee?


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Activity 5

• Students will evaluate the quality of texts and presentations from a variety of critical perspectives within the field of study (American history).

People of distinct nations and cultures involved in the transactions sometimes weighted significant items used in council negotiations differently in relation to one another. For example, signed and sealed articles of agreement, which were most often considered by Euramericans (Americans of European ancestry) to be the primary concrete symbol of agreement, were not commonly valued as such by Iroquois people. Similarly, although the presentations and acceptance of wampum belts were principal symbols of agreement to Iroquois people, they were not of such great value to Euramericans.

Source: Francis Jennings, The History and Culture of Iroquois Diplomacy, 1995, p. 85

– What did the Americans of European ancestry use as legal documents?

– What did the Haudenosaunee use as legal documents?

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Activity 6

• Students will develop connections between the ways that ideas, themes, and concepts are experienced through the visual arts and other disciplines in everyday life.

Wampum belts served as the Iroquois's records of treaty negotiations. These belts were symbolic of words spoken and were exchanged during the transactions. Physically these belts were "cylindrical beads [made principally of quahog, venus mercenaria, shells] drilled through from opposite ends," and strung in rows with sinew, vegetable fiber, and/or thread, forming a rectangular belt that was usually longer than wide. The beads are deep purple (black) or white in color. Glass was sometimes substituted for shell. Belts were made of beads of one color or a combination of black and white beads often strung to form graphic patterns (emblems) of white on black or black on white. White was considered by the Iroquois to symbolize peace and/or life, among other things, while black was said to symbolize war and/or death. Red paint or other pigment was sometimes added to signify war.

Source: Francis Jennings, The History and Culture of Iroquois Diplomacy, 1995, p. 85

– What material was used to make wampum belts?

– What did the color white signify in wampum belts?

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Activity 7

• Students will analyze subjective decision making problems to explain trade-offs that can be made to arrive at the best solution.

Days needed: two to three class periods
Documents can illustrate abstract concepts such as land ownership and treaty making in different cultures. Documents are useful in interdisciplinary activities, for they are puzzle pieces that require students to make connections and linkages.

Historical Context: The Mohican proprietors of lands along the upper Hudson River met with the director and his council at the fort on Manhattan Island on July 27, 1631. In the presence of those officials, the Mohicans conveyed those lands to Kilian Van Rensselaer, in return for a quantity of goods paid to them prior to the meeting.

Document A
Document A

New York Historical manuscripts


Document B
Document B

Confirmation of Indian deed to Kilian Van Rensselaer for lands on the North [Hudson] River, August 6, 1631.
Source of the New York State Archives, Series A, 1880 Dutch Patents and Deeds, vol. GG, p. 4.

NOTE: Translated in New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vols. GG, HH & II: Land Papers, trans. and ed. by Charles T. Gehring. Baltimore, 1979, pp. 2-3.
– Who was Kilian Van Rensselaer?

– What is the significance of the date of these deeds?

– In what language were these land deeds originally written? Why?

– Where was the land that was being deeded located?

– Why were the deeds signed at the fort on Manhattan Island?

– What did the Mohicans receive in return for the land?

– How did the Mohican concept of land ownership differ from the European concept?

– In what ways did differences in treaty making lead to violence and conflict?

– With which groups did the Iroquois experience conflict?

– The original document seen in Document A was scanned and reproduced. Why do you think it looks the way that it does?

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