In an experiment to experience the realities of life in colonial America, seventeen people in 2004 participated in a reenactment to build a settlement on the New England coast in a similar scenario to settlers of the year 1628. In this video segment from Colonial House, modern day colonists struggle to build homes, grow crops and fight frequent illness caused by exhaustion and exposure to cold. They also have to establish relationships with the native Passamaquoddy people in order to gain the seed needed to plant a corn crop. There are fears exhibited by both sides when the colonists and the Passamaquoddy people first meet.
American history, social studies, geography, Native Americans
The following Frame, Focus and Follow-up suggestions are best suited for middle school students using this video in an English language arts or social studies lesson. Be sure to modify the questions to meet your students' instructional needs.
What is Frame, Focus and Follow-up?
Frame (ELA) What does the term, “point of view,” mean? What are the different points of view that can be used when telling a story or describing and event? How can point of view bring about different outcomes in a narrative?
Focus (ELA) As you watch the video, determine the different points of view that could be used to describe the events taking place. What effect does the point of view have on the way the characters are portrayed?
Follow Up (ELA) When the colonists and the Passamaquoddy first see one another, what were their reactions? Imagine the point of view or perspective of each group or of individuals within groups as they encounter each other for the first time. How do their attitudes toward one another change as they have more contact?
Frame (SS) Who were the first Europeans to settle in America? What were the major causes of their re-settlement? What impact did European settlement have on Native American populations?
Focus (SS) As you watch the video, determine the primary goods that were traded between the colonists and the native people.
Follow Up (SS) Based on the video segment and your background knowledge of the colonization of America, who benefited more from their trade arrangement, the Passamaquoddy or the colonists? Explain your answer.
MICHELLE ROSSI-VOORHEES: What are you barking at Clo?
JOHN VOORHEES: Good boy Henry. What’s going on?
MICHELLE: I don’t know Chloe is barking at something.
PAUL HUNT: There must be something there if they’re barking like that…
BETHANY WYERS: Ya’ll look. Who in the world now they are yelling at me but what do you want …this is kind of scary.. Who is that?
DAVID: The Indians!
BETHANY: Oh my goodness. Hello?!
JEFF WYERS: We wait. We wait…
MICHELLE: Chloe wait. Well Jonathan and Angel…
JEFF: Jonathan. Henry. Well, we have had first contact.
BETHANY: They are coming, I just saw them.
JEFF: Head Back. Head Back.
JEFF: That does not sound friendly.
NARRATOR: Historically, colonists would have put on armor and readied their muskets at the first sight of natives.
John Voorhees is part Paiute Indian and reliving this moment in history is uncomfortable.
JOHN: I’m just a half-breed walking a thin line between my white side and my Indian side. We don’t know how anybody reacted back then. We’ve got a wealth of history from the Caucasian side but we don’t have anything from the Indian. So I have no idea what would have happened at the time. I can imagine their being a fair amount of fear amongst the original people who were here.
DAVID: What if they were real Indians?
TAMMY WYERS: These are real.
DAVID: Ya, but I’m saying like real like colonial times. It’s not like they live right now how they always lived…
TAMMY: They’re still dangerous—don’t you watch the 10 O’clock News?
NARRATOR: Governor Wyers sets out to look for the visitors.
JEFF: Whoa, whoa, look at this…stay here guys.
NARRATOR: These are the Passamaquoddy—one of the last tribes in Northeast America with their original language intact. They own the land on which the colony is built.
JOHN BEAR MITCHELL: When I first walked into the village it was, it was a little scary. Fear would be felt on both sides. I think that both sides would fear something hidden, something surprising.
GEORGE SABATTIS: We just tried to make it as they felt years ago. We were just trying to play that out as you did yours…and we didn’t mean any harm or to scare anybody at all.
NARRATOR: In the 1620s the English settlers and Native Americans depended on each other for trade.
Native Americans needed muskets and metal tools. Settlers needed furs to pay their debts in England. Settlers also envied the native maize or corn.
JEFF: We don’t have any corn, and one of the projects we’re supposed to do is plant this acre and a half of corn.
DONALD SOCTOMAH: My chief was willing to trade. We have corn, we will trade for flour…
JEFF: For flour? Ok we can do that.
NARRATOR: Jeff manages to secure enough corn to begin planting.
NARRATOR: Relations between Native Americans and settlers were always unstable. Despite the need for trade, as the colony expanded violent conflicts increased.
Over the course of a century of war and disease, 10,000 Passamaquoddy were reduced to just 150.
JOHN BEAR: We have been through the largest genocide. The largest holocaust on the soil of the United States. We are the recipients of all that death and the holocaust that happened on this soil was one of embarrassment for this country.
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