Thursday, November 8, 2012

Resources for studying the Homestead Act, including American Indian Perspectives, and a Plug for National History Day

I’ve been thinking a lot about homesteading lately, because we had a great meeting last week with teachers participating in this year’s Big Read reading My Antonia—a homesteading classic.
Julie Saylor, over at the Indian Education Division of the Office of Public Instruction, just shared with me an informational bulletin they put together: 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF HOMESTEAD ACT - AMERICAN INDIAN PERSPECTIVES. It lists some good resources for incorporating Indian perspectives into your study of homesteading.

Other resources for studying  (and teaching) homesteading can be found on the Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website, particularly on the student and educator resources pages for Chapter 13.

We also created a couple of bibliographies for student research projects—one on homesteading and one on allotment and the opening of Indian land to homesteaders. We created them for National History Day students, but they are good for anyone doing a research project.

Speaking of National History Day—it is NOT too late to join the fun. See this post from a few weeks ago for more information and then contact Tom Rust (trust@msubillings.edu for assistance).

NHD is contest based—though you can use the curriculum without sending students to any contests. This year, regional contests will be held in Lolo and Billings and the state contest will be held in Billings—and Humanities Montana said that it would look favorably on requests from schools to help pay costs associated with getting students to these contests. (More on information visit http://www.humanitiesmontana.org/grants/apply/index.php --then click on Grant Guidelines, and then look for the instructions for Opportunity Grants, which is the type of grant for which you’ll want to apply.) 

At the Montana Historical Society, we think the best NHD topics are local topics.
  • Local and state topics offer unique opportunities for original research.
  • Students researching local and state topics sometimes make genuine contributions to history through their work (because they break new ground).
  • It is often easier to find primary sources for local and state topics.
  • Local topics can offer the opportunity to learn more about things that matter deeply to a student’s own life or community.
That’s why we created our Montana history bibliographies, with wide-ranging topics, including Montana women’s suffrage, the free speech movement, the creation of the Rocky Boy Reservation, and the construction of Libby Dam. Of course, there are many other Montana history topics that relate to this year’s theme, “Turning Points: People, Places, Events.” And, as an incentive for students to choose a Montana history topic, we will once again offer a prize for the best entry on a Montana History topic in both the junior and senior divisions at the state contest.

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