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Putting It All Together

In this lesson, students learn about one of the nationís most important conservation laws--the Antiquities Act of 1906--and how its passage preserved important cultural sites such as Tonto National Monument, which preserves remnants of the Salado culture prior to European contact. The following activities will help them apply what they have learned.

Activity 1: Cliff Dwelling Research
In addition to the Salado, other Southwestern American Indian groups made their homes in cliff dwellings. Divide students into groups and have each group choose a cliff dwelling site to research on the Internet. They should then compare and contrast the history and building structures of Tonto National Monument and their chosen cliff dwelling. Each group should select a spokesperson who will present its findings and explain what archeology revealed about the inhabitants of their selected cliff dwelling. Have each group create an exhibit about the cliff dwelling it researched and share them with the class. If possible, invite other classes to visit the classroom to tour the exhibits.

Activity 2: Preservation Debate
The Antiquities Act of 1906 empowered the president to protect "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the land owned or controlled by the Government of the United States" from destruction. This authority does not require Congressional approval. Critics argue that the Act is a means for the President to bypass Congress or disregard states' viewpoints, particularly regarding commercial development of the land. Is there, or has there been, a preservation controversy about a place in your community? If so, have students research the history of the place, then divide students into two groups, one group favoring preservation and the other group favoring development. If there is no such controversy in your community, identify and research a historic place in your community and imagine that it is being threatened by commercial development. After allowing time to develop arguments for and against preservation, assign a spokesperson for each group to present a five minute position statement to the class. The opposing group's spokesperson will then make a two minute rebuttal. After both groups have presented their arguments and given a rebuttal, have the class vote on their position and explain which side they think presented the best argument.

Activity 3: The First Inhabitants of Your Community
Have students research your community's history to determine who its first inhabitants were. Are there any descendents of the first inhabitants still living locally? If so, invite them to speak to the class regarding this exercise. Students should also identify places that are still associated with the first inhabitants. If there are no places identifiable, have students find out what happened to places associated with them and why they no longer exist. Are the sites recognized in some way (for example, by plaque)? If not, consider having students design a plaque or monument to dedicate to this part of your town's history. An alternate activity would be to have students write papers about how the town preserves and interprets its history.

 

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