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Putting It All Together


The Battle of Horseshoe Bend was one result of the spread of Europeans west from the Atlantic Ocean. It reflected many of the conflicts that developed as people from different societies came into contact—battles over land and culture that occurred not just in the Southeast but across North America.

Activity 1: Cultural Conflict
Have students work in groups of four or five to discuss the question, "What choices did the Creek have?" They should examine their textbooks to learn more about European American/American Indian relations in general, then review Readings 1-3. Ask them to make a chart that lists possible strategies the Creek could have followed and the advantages and disadvantages of each. When they've finished their chart, they should pick the option they believe was the best, making sure to ask how they define "best."

End the activity by having students consider whether battles like Horseshoe Bend are inevitable. Create new groups, and assign each one to research a current world conflict. Ask students to use newspapers, magazines, and other sources to list the histories, goals, and justifications of each side. After they have presented their information to the class, have students write a short position paper which examines the statement: "War and aggression are inevitable components of human behavior." Then have the class compare current events with Horseshoe Bend.

Activity 2: What Else Was Happening?
It is often difficult to place events such as the Battle of Horseshoe Bend into the broad developments of American history. To help students develop this skill, have them start by reading the following list:

1793 Eli Whitney improves the cotton gin
1796 Tennessee becomes a state
1803 Louisiana Purchase
1803-1815 Napoleonic Wars in Europe
1808 End of legal slave importation
1811 Steamboat service begins on the Mississippi River
1817 Mississippi becomes a state
1819 Alabama becomes a state

Break students into groups of four to six. Ask them to decide whether these events were connected to Horseshoe Bend and, if so, how. Did these events help cause the battle? Did they illustrate long-term trends that also affected the battle? Were they connected in some other way? If necessary, have them reread sections of their textbooks to get more information. After they have worked in their groups, have them discuss their answers with the rest of the class, making sure to have them explain why they decided what they did.

Activity 3: The Trail of Tears
Reading 3 only briefly describes events in the two decades following the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, yet the fighting profoundly affected what happened over the next two decades. Have students research what happened to the Creek confederacy between 1815-1836 so they better understand how government policy developed in the years leading to the Trail of Tears. Subjects of particular interest include: 1. How far did various Creek talwas go toward adopting European culture? Why?
2. How did what happened to the Creek after 1815 compare with what happened to other nations, particularly the Cherokee?
3. How do these events fit with the idea of "Jacksonian Democracy?"

Activity 4: Discovering Traces of Local American Culture
Have students separate into small groups to research the names of towns and cities in their immediate region to see if any of them are derived from original American Indian inhabitants. Local historical societies often have material that will provide this information. Have students further research to find out if any European American/American Indian battles took place in their area. If so, have them determine if the causes and effects were similar in any way to the Creek’s stand at Horseshoe Bend. If not, have them determine how the United States obtained the land they live on, and then compare that acquisition with the way in which the U.S. acquired Creek lands. If there are local tribes, invite a representative to speak to the class. Finally, ask the students to discuss whether the tribes should receive compensation because of past government treaty violations. Why or why not? If so, what should it be?

 

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