The Ancient Ohio Trail was developed as a guide for visitors to the principal remaining 2000-year-old earthworks and mounds built by Native Americans in what is now Ohio. Teachers and curriculum planners can select among Trail materials to suit their own location, grade levels, subject interests, and available time. Three main focus points of Trail material make it especially useful in the classroom. Students can use it to learn about:
- The nature of the ancient earthworks and the culture of the builders.
- Early Ohio history, including the geographic setting of the works, the social context in which they were first described, and surrounding historic towns, buildings, and roads that show how settlement and development took place in this region.
- The Native people of Ohio: who they were and are, their story of removal in the 1830’s and ‘40’s, their connections to the works of their ancestors today, and how their knowledge and attitudes are informing everyone’s appreciation of the works.
Review the Trail materials and download your own choices from this website to fit your needs. And, make use of some of the following existing curriculum materials relevant to these topics, now available on line.
Teachers of students under 12 may wish to use some of the i-phone games and printable activities and stories (including an annotated reading list) for children that are available for families visiting specific sites; see “Games” and “For Children” under Resources. Ohio teachers will be aware that the state social studies curriculum now places the main study of the earthworks and the Hopewell culture in fourth grade. The materials in the following listing are generally for grades 3 to 6, although some are suited to older students. Teachers planning class field trips to Fort Ancient, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, or the Newark Earthworks will find specific programs below. Students of any age can benefit from a field trip to an earthwork site, or some classroom lessons based on Trail resources. The earthworks are a great ancient treasure, as worthy of classroom time as the Egyptian pyramids, or Stonehenge.
On-Line Materials and Contacts for Teachers and Students
Explorations in Ancient Ohio: An Integrated Curriculum for Grades 3 to 6, by Susan Knisely and Megan Stevens (Hopewell Culture National Historical Park rangers), downloadable PDF.
This comprehensive curriculum guide with activity pages for students covers a broad range of subjects including the earthworks in general, specific sites within the park, and the methods of archaeology. Lessons are keyed to Ohio state academic standards.
Field trips to Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, or classroom visits from rangers, all free, can be arranged by contacting the park in Chillicothe at 740 774-1126.
The Ohio Historical Society, on line at Ohio History, offers an excellent new exhibit about the earthworks and their builders, featuring the museum’s amazing collection of artifacts, at the Ohio History Center, Columbus. Field trips there can be arranged by calling 614-297-2663. Get information on field trips to many earthwork and related historical sites through OHS here.
OHS also offers a PDF lesson (grade level adjustable) called Who Built the Earthworks?
A “case history” titled First Ohioans, about Ohio prehistory, is offered by OHS to teachers in Ohio. It consists of a set of reproduction artifacts and activities connected with them, set up in a kit (case) and coordinated to Ohio academic standards. Grade levels are 3 to middle school. More information here.
Finally, OHS offers an encyclopedia of information about the earthworks and related subjects through its “Ohio History Central”.
Fort Ancient, an Ohio state historical monument, features not only the large and varied Fort Ancient hilltop enclosure, but also a working archaeological dig, an excellent museum, a garden planted with foods the ancient people grew, a house based on the pattern found in the ground there, and a large room set up for hands-on crafts, games, and other activities for learning about Ohio area Indians. See the website. The park offers guided tour field trips and activities for visiting classes. Earlier programs described on the park’s website are now in flux. Contact site manager Jack Blosser at 1-800-283-8904.
Earth and Sky is the name of a remarkable curriculum sponsored by the Miami Tribe, once located in Ohio and Indiana, but now in Oklahoma. The learning activities teach about earth and sky as seen from a Miami Native American perspective. There are materials for upper elementary through high school students and adults. While the curriculum does not address the ancient Ohio earthworks, what it reveals about the Miami people’s relation to the natural world is certainly relevant. Information and downloadable materials.
Teaching With Historic Places is an arm of the National Park Service which helps teachers make the most of learning from actual places.
Begin with Using Historic Places to Teach, a guide to using their lessons or creating your own. Teachers interested in studying the earthworks in their 19th Century context may find these ideas especially helpful.
A good example is their lesson plan for The Ohio and Erie Canal, about a feature which keeps reappearing along the Ancient Ohio Trail.
TWHP also points out rightly that you need not actually visit a place to learn from it. They suggest a series of lessons about places that help tell the story of American Indian history.
The National Museum of the American Indian has a special section for educators and students.
Explore the website to find a wealth of useful material, including lessons, books, films, and searchable collections that can be starting points for student projects."
Websites of the tribes removed from Ohio in the 1830’s and 1840’s tell their histories from their own points of view. Explore these short histories from all the federally recognized tribes formerly in Ohio:
Absentee Shawnee Tribe (go to “SERVICES >> Cultural Preservation”)
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, in Indianapolis, offers a downloadable Mihtohseenionki Teacher Resource Guide about the culture and history of the Miami Tribe. See PDF Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 - Part6.