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Inquiry Question

Historical Context

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About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration files "Oriskany Battlefield" (with photographs) and "Fort Stanwix" (with photographs), accounts of people who lived during this period, and other source materials. The Battle of Oriskany was written by Mike Kusch, Chief of Visitor Services, and Susan Jones, Park Ranger, both at Fort Stanwix National Monument. The lesson was edited by Jean West, education consultant, and the Teaching with Historic Places staff. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.

Note to Educators: Because the terms used to describe the people who fought in the American Revolutionary War can be confusing and misleading, this lesson refers to those who fought for the American cause as "Rebels" rather than "Patriots" and those who fought for the British cause as "Tories" rather than "Loyalists."

It is also important to discuss the meaning of the word "savage," which appears in the primary sources quoted in the lesson. In the 18th century, people frequently called American Indians savages as a way of identifying them apart from European Americans. The word savage in its negative connotation was applied to any person, regardless of ethnic or racial background, who did not conform to European standards.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: The lesson could be used in U.S. history, social studies, and geography courses in units on the Revolutionary War and American Indian history. It also could be used in courses on conflict resolution, cultural diversity, and art.
Time period: Late 18th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Objectives for students
1) To evaluate the decisions several New Yorkers made about which side to support during the Revolutionary War.
2) To analyze the Battle of Oriskany to determine whether the Tories or the Rebels won the battle.
3) To determine what effects the Battle of Oriskany had on the American Revolution as a whole and on the subsequent history of the region.
4) To apply the historic lessons of Oriskany and Central New York to contemporary issues in their own community.

Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-quality version.
1) four maps showing the geography of the area, the Iroquois Confederacy, and the British Campaign of 1777;
2) three readings compiled from historic documents and more recent histories;
3) three paintings of key people discussed in the lesson.

Visiting the site
The Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site is located in New York on Route 69 between the Town of Oriskany and the City of Rome. It is preserved by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation--Central Region. For more information, contact Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site, 7801 State Route 69, Oriskany, NY 13424.

Fort Stanwix National Monument, administered by the National Park Service, is located in downtown Rome, New York at the intersections of Routes 69, 26, 49, and 46. For more information, contact the Superintendent, Fort Stanwix National Monument, 112 E. Park Street, Rome, NY 13440, or visit the park's Web site. Both sites are closed for part of the year due to winter snow, so please contact them before visiting.

 

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