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How to
Use the Activities


Inquiry Question

Historical Context




Table of

Putting It All Together

All the events prior to and during the American Revolutionary War in central New York are interrelated, and these had profound effects on the people who lived there. In these activities, students will compare their lives in their community to what it would be like to live in central New York during this time. Students will also explore what it was like to be at the Battle of Oriskany.

Activity 1: Where Do I Stand?
Ask each student to select one of the historical people who participated at the Battle of Oriskany and create a report in the character of that person about the experience. The report may be written or oral. Once the student has identified what person they are portraying and explained why that character was selected, the student should answer the following questions in character:

1. What do you (the person you are role­playing) believe in? What do you support?
2. What do you oppose?
3. What are your hopes and dreams?
4. What are you feeling before this battle? Are you angry, sad, happy or a mixture of these? Are you worried or anxious about yourself and your family? Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the outcome of the battle?
5. Place yourself in the battle. Where are you located, in the ravine or on the hilltop? What do you see, hear, smell and feel? Who do you see? What are you doing? What are your feelings? Are you afraid, angry, or confused or a mixture?
6. After the battle, how do you feel? Are you worried or anxious about your family? What do you see in your immediate or long-term future? Has your outlook changed? Have your hopes and ambitions changed? Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?

Activity 2: The Lost Battlefield
The Oriskany Battlefield has been lost over time. The land is still there, however, the old Military Road is gone, the virgin woodland forest has been clear cut, and exact placements of everyone on the battlefield can not be reproduced. Except for letter and journal entries, some written shortly after the battle and others collected long after the battle (which sometimes are conflicting) there is little to tell us exactly where and how the battle was fought. There is also little physical evidence available to help researchers evaluate the reliability of these accounts.

Students are going to be asked to recreate the Battle of Oriskany. They should keep a written journal or recorded oral log about the investigative and production phases of the project. After students have completed studying the quotes in the readings, looked at maps of the area or colonial illustrations depicting military clothing and weapons, and completed additional personal research, ask them to complete one of the following activities:

1. As an historical cartographer, find the ravine and high ground, and then draw a map or series of maps of Oriskany battlefield during the battle's different phases.
2. As an historical illustrator, sketch or paint a picture or series of pictures of the Battle of Oriskany.
3. As a re-enactor or documentary film-maker, create costumes, re-enact the battle, and videotape the re-enactment. Edit the tape and add voice-over narration for final presentation.

Activity 3: In the Grip of Fear
Ask the students to produce a written, pictorial, or video report describing a controversial issue which has divided their community. Point out that community can be interpreted in many ways and may be their school, sports teams, parent groups, school board, local government, or state government as well as the nation or world. The students will have to use investigative research techniques and questioning strategies to find the answers through review of local newspapers, committee reports, and personal interviews. Students may want to record their data on a chart like the one used in Reading 1. Ask them to identify what the controversy is, and then answer the following questions:

1. Is there only one central issue that is causing the controversy, or are there several issues?
2. What was the history of the community before the controversy? Are there events in the past which affect the issue(s) today?
3. Who are the key leaders on both sides of the issue? Why have they taken the stand they have taken?
4. What is the general social make-up of the followers of these leaders? Where are they from? In which part of the community do they live? What is their social, political and economic standing? What are their race, ethnicity, and sex? What types of jobs do they have? Where do they stand on the issue and why?

After the students have completed this activity, have them ask the same questions about the Mohawk Valley civil war and then compare and contrast the contemporary controversy they have studied with the Mohawk Valley civil war. Alternatively, the students may want to compare the controversy they have studied with the U.S. Civil War, regional civil wars in the U.S. (such as in "Bleeding Kansas"), or civil wars on the international scene (such as in Rwanda and Kosovo in the 1990s or China in the 1940s).



Comments or Questions

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