These activities for Our Maine Ancestors were updated in late 2008 and early 2009 along with the Learning Results sections.
Ideas to try....
History, Geography, and Perspective
Compare Native American culture with the European heritage brought to Maine by the early explorers and settlers. Investigate the aspect of perspective in written sources, both original and secondary. Rosier, in documenting Waymouth’s voyage, appears to be trying to make a good case for settlement. Read David Morey’s book with the idea of identifying support for Rosier’s motive.
European explorers and Native Americans developed and used maps in different ways. Construct maps using these two different perspectives. Look up maps of the early divisions of Maine into holdings of various companies or patentees in England, as well as French territory. Define and discuss the resulting conflicts and their outcomes.
Language and Culture
Reading A True Relation in the original version gives students an opportunity to experience the English language as it was used in the early 17th century. Language also may affect the way groups are perceived by others. For example, the Native people living here had no written alphabetic language, but nevertheless had sophisticated communication. Research how they accomplished communication, mapping, etc, by reading Native American sources and comparing them with other texts that may use these facts to create bias.
Native American games and dances provide opportunities to learn about the cultural significance of the arts as well as to practice physical skills. How do people best learn physical movements—through watching, doing, or listening to explanation? Discuss different learning styles.
Language instruction goals are intended to apply to Spanish, French, German, or whatever languages high school students study. However, there is much work being done at present to preserve the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot languages. A new Passamaquoddy-Maliseet dictionary was published in late 2008. Learn some Native American language by seeking out individuals, recordings, and printed materials. See books for young children and curriculum resources on the Resource List. Cultural learning is easily integrated into language learning.
The theories surrounding which river George Waymouth discovered—the St. George or the Penobscot—were tested creatively by the Rockland organization Atlantic Challenge under the leadership of lobsterman Sherwood Cook. People hold different views about this controversy. The dispute offers opportunities to analyze scientific investigation—how valid is the Atlantic Challenge conclusion? What would a formal scientist add to this investigation? (Replication, statistical treatment, etc.) What other explanations could account for the conclusion that the river was the St. George despite the “26 mile” paddle? What do you think? This presents an opportunity for debate. Read more about the 1905 Waymouth celebration in Thomaston—an eye-opener in terms of politics, culture, bias, and interpretation. See the chapter by Richard D’Abate in the Waymouth Symposium proceedings (See Resource List.)
Maine’s ecosystem changed with increased European settlement. Compare changes to pre-contact period.
Diseases brought by the Europeans devastated Native people. Investigate immunity, transmission, epidemics, pandemics, and public health, both in modern times and in the past. Compare epidemics in different times and places around the world.
Graphs, tables, and charts may be applied to populations of early towns in Maine (use census records), growth of different areas of the state, production of masts and other goods, etc. What conclusions may be drawn from a graph of census data, if the context and related facts are not known?