European Explorers Traveling Trunk

Antler-handled small knife and projectile points from the trunkThe European Explorers Traveling Trunk tells the story of the first Spanish and French explorers of the area now known as Mississippi and the effects of their colonization on the Native Americans who controlled the region. A five-day lesson plan with related activities accompanies the unit. The first lesson begins with a discussion of the reasons for European exploration of southeastern North America and the nature of their interactions with the natives they encountered. Activities include mapping the path of the Hernando de Soto expedition.

Following lessons focus on trade between the Europeans and Native Americans and use items from the trunk typical of the period: a tobacco twist, pipe bowl and stem, pendants, glass beads, brass bells, antler-handled stone knife, sundial compass, red flannel trade cloth, and other objects.

Accompanying literature for the trunkThrough a graphing activity, students understand the drastic decline of the Native American population following the introduction of European diseases. It is estimated that the Indian population of Mississippi was reduced from around 200,000 to less than 20,000 between 1550 and 1750.

An illustrated booklet, Nicholas de La Salle: A Tale of Discovery, is provided to each student. Drawn from his diaries, it follows the young Frenchman La Salle as he participates in the first trip by Europeans down the Mississippi River to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. Students are encouraged to keep and share their own journals and thus learn the value of historical records. A math-skills activity is also included.

Beads like those that would have been used for tradeThe Traveling Trunk Program was developed for use with fourth- through twelfth-grade classes. Trunks are available September through November and January through May. The trunks are designed to be used as a one- to two-week unit and will be shipped the week before they are to be used in the classroom to allow the teacher to become familiar with the contents. The trunks should be returned on the Monday following the completion of the teaching unit. Trunks must be shipped UPS and insured for $500. Teachers may choose to transport the trunks to the Museum themselves. The Traveling Trunk Program was developed with funding from the Phil Hardin Foundation of Meridian. Additional funding was provided by BellSouth and BellSouth Pioneers.

For more information or to book this trunk call 601-576-6800.

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