Include Page
Left side of our banner Right side of our banner
Home New York State Education Department Curriculum Instruction and Instructional Technology Virtual Learning System

Classroom Activities 1 2 3 4

Activity 1

Students will understand how to develop and use maps and other graphic representations to display geographic issues, problems, and questions.

Students will work in groups to compare the travels of Hudson and Champlain with contemporary maps in order to identify the major cities, the bodies of water, and the mountain ranges through which they ventured. Students will also research the Native American groups identify the Native American groups that inhabited the lands traveled by Hudson and Champlain.

Have students trace the voyages of Champlain and Hudson.

In small groups, students should analyze the study guide, “European and Native American Encounters of Colonial New York.” They should then complete the Henry Hudson and Samuel de Champlain graphic organizers on the basis of the study guide.

Map 1 Map 2 European and Native American Encounters in New York Hudson's Journey Web Exercise Champlain's Journey Web Exercise

Back to the top

Activity 2
Teachable moments stress that documents should be analyzed from the perspective of their original, historical and cultural contexts, but they can also be viewed from contemporary perspectives. It is important that our students develop the ability to interact and engage with a broad range of instructional materials. Please exercise discretion as you create your commemorative lessons.

Students will analyze historical narratives about key events in New York State and United States history to identify the facts and evaluate the author’s perspective.

Students will support interpretations and decisions about relative significance of information with explicit statements, evidence, and appropriate arguments.

- Read Champlain’s journal entries and drawing regarding his defeat of 200 Mohawk warriors at Lake Champlain. The students will answer the questions and participate in class discussion regarding this event. Students should understand that this is the first battle of North America in which one side used guns in battle against the natives. From this point on, the Iroquois traded furs in order to obtain guns for their battles against their native enemies.

- After finishing the activity and meeting in small groups to discuss the readings, pictures, and responses to questions, all students should prepare to report their findings to the whole class. Their general report should address the following key tasks:

  1. Discuss how the encounters of Hudson and Champlain with Native American Indians were different.
  2. Explain why 1609 is a significant year in the history of Native Americans and Europeans, and how the relationship among those involved shaped the course of American history.
  3. Discuss how the French and the Dutch influenced the Iroquois nations they encountered.
Historical Context

Ironically, in 1609 neither Samuel de Champlain nor Henry Hudson realized that the other was approximately 100 miles away.

In July 1609 Champlain, an ally of the Algonquian tribe known as the Montagnais, explored the lake that bears his name today. On the evening of July 29, 1609, he encountered a flotilla of Mohawk canoes carrying about 200 Iroquois warriors. The two hostile groups met in battle the next day on the present site of Ticonderoga. This battle established an enduring hostile relationship between the Iroquois and the French.

A short time later—on September 19, 1609—Henry Hudson met and traded with the Mohawks at the site of present-day Albany, New York. Based on this encounter, friendly relations between the Mohawks and the Dutch were established.

In the struggle for European supremacy in North America, alliances with Native American Indians played a vital role. Ultimately, the English supplanted the Dutch. It was England’s alliance with the powerful Iroquois that determined the outcome of the French/English struggle.

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.

Known as the “Father of New France,” the fearless Samuel de Champlain set foot in what are now parts of Vermont and New York in July 1609. To this day, the lake he entered then bears his name.

   “We left the next day (July 29 1609) continuing our course in the river as far as the entrance to the lake (Lake Champlain). In this there are many pretty islands, which are low, covered with very beautiful woods and meadows, where there is a quantity of game, and animals for hunting, such as stags, fallow-deer, fawns, roebucks, bears and other animals which come from the mainland to these islands. We caught a great many of them. There are also many beavers, not only in this river, but in many other little ones which empty into it….
   There are also several rivers which flow into the lake, bordered by many fine trees of the same sorts that we have in France, with a quantity of vines more beautiful than any I had seen in any other places; many chestnut trees, and I had not seen any at all before, except on the shores of the lake, where there is a great abundance of fish, of many varieties. Among other kinds there is one called by the savages Chaousarou, which is of various lengths; but the longest, as these people told me, is eight or ten feet. I saw some five feet long, which were as big as a man’s thigh; with a head being as large as two fists, a snout two feet and a half long, and a double row of very sharp and dangerous teeth…
    Continuing our course in this lake on the west side I saw, as I was observing the country, some very high mountains on the eastern side with snow on top of them. I inquired of the savages if these places were inhabited. They told me that they were–by the Iroquois–and that in these places there were beautiful valleys and open stretches fertile in grain, such as I had eaten in this country, with a great many other fruits; and that the lake went near mountains, which were perhaps as it seemed to me, about fifteen leagues from us. I saw on the south others, no less high than the first, but without snow. The savages told me that these mountains were thickly peopled. They also said it was necessary to pass a rapid, which I saw afterward, and from there to enter another lake, three or four leagues long (Lake George)….”
Journal of Samuel de Champlain

From: Algonquians, Hurons and Iroquois: Champlain Explores America 1603–1616. Annie Nettleton Bourne, translator (2000), pp. 100–101. Dartmouth, Nova Scotia: Brook House Press.

  1. Explain how the natural resources of the St. Lawrence / Lake Champlain / Hudson River Corridor would ultimately lead to trade, conflict, and the economic development of the region.
  2. Discuss the ways that Champlain’s journal significantly expanded European knowledge about North American plants and animals.

Back to the top

Activity 3

Samuel de Champlain’s 1609 Encounter with the Mohawks


Samuel de Champlain was a critical figure in the establishment of New France along the St. Lawrence River. He set up a small trading post at Quebec, the capital of the colony, in 1608. Working with a small number of French colonists who had interested in the fur trade, Champlain recognized that success depended on alliances with the native peoples of the northern region. In June 1609, Champlain and nine French soldiers joined a war party of Montagnais and Hurons to fight the Iroquois. About 200 Iroquois warriors from the Mohawk tribe met Champlain at what was later called Lake Champlain. Over the next several decades, Champlain chronicled his explorations and observations of New France, providing important information on 17th-century life and warfare in North America. Although Champlain was on Lake Champlain for only a few weeks, he left his mark on the region.

Students will investigate the roles and contributions of individuals and groups in relation to key social, political, cultural, and religious practices throughout world history.

Students will explain that although technological effects are complex and difficult to predict accurately, humans can control the development and implementation of technology.

Defeat of the Iroquois at Lake Champlain

   “When evening came we embarked in our canoes to continue on our way; and, as we were going along very quietly, and without making any noise on the twenty-ninth of the month, we met the Iroquois at ten o’clock at night at the end of a cape that projects into the lake on the wet side, and they were coming to war. We both began to make loud cries, each getting his arms ready. We withdrew toward the water and the Iroquois went ashore and arranged their canoes in a line, and began to cut down trees with poor axes, which they get in war sometime, and also with others of stone; and they barricaded themselves very well….
    I saw the enemy come out of their barricade, nearly 200 men strong and robust to look at, coming slowly toward us with a dignity and assurance that pleased me very much. At their head there were three chiefs. Our men also went forth in the same order, and they told me that those who wore three large plumes were the chiefs; and that there were only three of them; and that they were recognizable by these plumes, which were a great deal larger than those of their companions; and that I should do all I could to kill them. I promised them to do all in my power, and said that I was very sorry they could not understand me well, so that I might give order and system to their attack of the enemy, in which case we should undoubtedly destroy them all…
    As soon as we were ashore they began to run for some 200 paces toward their enemy, who were standing firmly and had not having as yet noticed my companions, who went into the woods with some savages. Our men began to call me with loud cries: and, to give me a passage-way, they divided in two parts and put me at their head, where I marched some twenty paces in advance of the others, until I was within about thirty paces of the enemy. They at once saw me and halted, looking at me, as I at them. When I saw them making a move to shoot at us, I rested my arquebuse against my cheek and aimed directly at one of the three chiefs. With the same shot two of them fell to the ground, and one of their companions, who was wounded and afterward died. I put four balls into my arquebuse. When our men saw this shot so favorable for them, they began to make cries so loud that one could not have heard it thunder. Meanwhile, the arrows did not fail to fly from both sides. The Iroquois were much astonished that two men had been so quickly killed, although they were provided with armor woven from cotton thread and from wood, proof against their arrows. This alarmed them greatly. As I was loading again, one of my companions fired shot from the woods, which astonished them again to such a degree that, seeing their chiefs dead, they lost courage, took to flight and abandoned the field and their fort, fleeing into the depths of the woods. Pursuing them thither I killed some more of them. Our savages also killed several of them and took ten or twelve prisoners. The rest escaped with the wounded. There were fifteen or sixteen of our men wounded by arrow shots, who were soon healed.” Journal of Samuel de Champlain

From: Algonquians, Hurons and Iroquois: Champlain Explores America 1603–1616. Annie Nettleton Bourne, translator (2000), pp. 102–103. Dartmouth, Nova Scotia: Brook House Press.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why did Samuel de Champlain ally himself with the Montagnais and the Hurons?

2. What role did technology play in Champlain’s defeat of the Iroquois?

3. To what extent did Champlain’s defeat of the Iroquois change North American history?

Champlain's drawing of a battle

1609 Battle of Samuel de Champlain

Students will support interpretations and decisions about relative significance of information with explicit statements, evidence, and appropriate arguments.

Students will explain the dynamics of cultural change and how interactions between and among cultures has affected various cultural groups throughout the world.


Answer the following questions regarding Champlain’s drawing (ca. 1613) depicting his battle with the Mohawks in 1609.

  1. Where does Champlain place himself in the battle? Do you believe this representation is accurate? Why or why not?
  2. Based on your knowledge of the battle, which nation of natives is fighting behind Champlain (which is in his support) and which nation of natives is he fighting (which is in front of him)?
  3. In what ways did Champlain’s battle tactics differ from those of the natives?

Back to the top

Activity 4

Students will analyze the development of American culture, explaining how ideas, values, beliefs, and traditions have changed over time and how they unite all Americans.

French Attack on an Iroquois Village

   Early in September 1615 Champlain set out from near Lake Huron with a small force of French musketeers and four or five hundred Huron Iroquois Indians. Champlain’s Lieutenant Brule, set out earlier with a guard of twelve Indians to make his way to the Susquehanna and secure the services of 500 Andastes or Susquehannocks who were willing to fight against the five nations. They traveled to Lake Ontario and crossed near the Thousand Islands. The canoes were hidden near Famine river and the party began a journey inland until they came to Oneida Lake. Skirting the southern shore and turning to the south, they captured 11 Iroquois who were fishing. The next day, October 10, 1615, they came in sight of the fortified village of Oneidas at Nichols pond.

   Engaged in the harvesting of their crops of corn, beans, and squashes the Oneidas were startled by the invaders. Not waiting for Champlain to come up with the main body of men, the Hurons advanced without reinforcements, thus saving the Oneidas from complete disaster. The Oneida archers quickly responded and threw themselves between the enemy and their women and children. They held ground until all had retired to safety. They then shut the gates to the village leaving six Hurons wounded and taking a few others inside with their own wounded.

   Champlain left a complete diagram and description of the Oneida Village. It had orderly laid out streets between the bark longhouses. The village was well protected with four rows of log palisades thirty feet high. These interlocked at the tops for greater strength and at a suitable distance from the tops was a gallery for the defenders who were protected by timbers fasted to the upright palisades. At intervals along the walls were piles of stones to supplement the arrows of the archers. One corner of the fort projected into the spring fed pond and provided water to quench fires that might be started. Champlain withdrew his force to the southeast of the village behind a sheltering ridge and drew up a plan for the assault of the fort. This did not differ much from those used by Caesar with the exception that he relied upon fire to reduce the wall rather than a battering ram and must use a mob of excitable warriors in the place of disciplined troops. He began the attack on the l1th by having 200 warriors bring up a movable tower overlooking the walls in which he had stationed some musketeers to sweep the galleries by their fire. A testudo (tortoise shell shield) was provided under which the Hurons could advance to the wall protected, build a fire and then leave it as a protecting roof to shield the flames from water. The walls were cleared by the musket shots but the excitable Indians forgot their well made plans in their efforts to show their personal bravery. The testudo was abandoned. Fire was placed by unprotected warriors to the walls. Others added bundles of fuel. Most of them wasted their efforts by shooting arrows in the wooden walls. Unfortunately the fire was placed on the wrong sides where the wind blew the flames and smoke away from the fort. The Oneidas ran their water gutters through crevices in the walls and extinguished the fires. They kept up such a shower of arrows on the besiegers that they were obliged to retire to safety taking about a score of wounded with them. Among these was Champlain with an arrow in his thigh and another in his knee.

   Unable to burn the walls or force the gate, they rested in their camp waiting for the expected reinforcements. On the 16th of October a heavy snow storm began and an orderly retreat back to Lake Ontario was made. On the 18th the force under Brule arrived at this fort but was quickly dispersed by the Oneidas.

   It was at this place where history was made. Champlain's dreams of a New France here were shattered. The Iroquois Confederation became the foes of New France and formed, a sturdy barrier behind which the English colonies on the Atlantic seaboard were allowed to develop. The five nations quickly saw the advantage of firearms and soon began exchanging their furs for them with the Dutch traders. They almost annihilated the Hurons and the Susquehanna tribes and absorbed the survivors. They repaid Champlain's unfriendly call with many bloody ones on the more northern territory of New France.


1. Where did the battle between Champlain, Brule, and their native allies take place?

2. How were the Oneidas able to withstand Champlain’s attack?

3. What was the historical significance of this battle?

European Engraving of the Attack on the Oneida Village in October 1615

A picture of a fort

1. What is the name given to the type of dwelling within the fortified walls?

2. What nation resides within the walls of the protective structure?

3. Who is attacking the fortified village?

Back to the top

Previous Next