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Discussion Questions

  1. To the European settlers, the Appalachian Mountains were a barrier to westward expansion. Do you think the Native Americans who lived in present day Kentucky saw the Appalachian Mountains as a barrier? Why or why not?
  2. About 300 million years ago, a meteor hit the earth with such force that it created a crater in the Appalachian Mountains. Why was this meteor important in the settlement of the United States?
  3. Why did both the French and the English want the Native Americans to fight on their side in the French and Indian War? Why did some Native Americans side with the French and some with the English while others stayed neutral?
  4. Why did Britain’s King George III try to stop American settlers from moving westward after England won the French and Indian War? How did the American colonists react to this proclamation?
  5. Why were the settlers willing to face many dangers to move west?
  6. What conditions would make you leave your homeland and immigrate to another country even if it meant facing dangers?
  7. How would you feel if settlers tried to move onto land that you considered to be your home and the home of your ancestors?
  8. Congress has directed the U.S. Mint to issue quarters with designs to recognize a national park or other national site in each of the 50 states. The Kentucky quarter (to be issued in 2016) will feature Cumberland Gap. Is this a good choice? Why or why not?
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Use the Doorway to the West video segment and the discussion questions to explore the history of the Cumberland Gap and its role in American and Kentucky history. Here are some additional materials that will be helpful to you:

  • Show your class programs 3 and 4 of “Kentucky’s Story: Survival of a People,” produced by KET and available through KET Encyclomedia. You can download a Teacher Guide.
  • The Cumberland Gap National Park offers a free multimedia toolkit for teachers that includes a history of the Cumberland Gap.

Standards:

SS-5-CS-S-3—Students will describe conflicts that occurred among and between diverse groups (e.g., Native Americans and the early Explorers, Native Americans and the Colonists, the British Government and the English Colonists, Native Americans and the U.S. Government) during the settlement of the United States; explain the causes of these conflicts and the outcomes

SS-5-G-S-3—Students will investigate how humans modify the physical environment:

  1. describe how people modified the physical environment (e.g., dams, roads, bridges) to meet their needs during the early settlement of the United States
  2. analyze how the physical environment (e.g., mountains as barriers or protection, rivers as barriers or transportation) promoted and restricted human activities during the early settlement of the United States

SS-5-HP-U-2—Students will understand that the history of the United States can be analyzed by examining significant eras (Colonization and Settlement, Revolution and a New Nation, Expansion and Conflict, Industrialization and Immigration and the Twentieth Century) to develop a chronological understanding and recognize cause and effect relationships and multiple causation, tying past to present.

SS-5-HP-U-4—Students will understand that geography, culture, and economics have a significant impact on historical perspectives and events.

SS-5-HP-S-1—Students will demonstrate an understanding of the interpretative nature of history using a variety of tools (e.g., primary and secondary sources):

  1. investigate and chronologically describe major events in United States history (e.g., using timelines, charts, fictional and report writing, role playing)
  2. explain reasons that individuals and groups explored and settled in the United States

SS-5-HP-S-2—c) compare reasons (e.g., freedoms, opportunities, fleeing negative situations) immigrants came/come to America

SS-4-CS-S-3—Students will describe conflicts that occurred between diverse groups (e.g., Native Americans and the early settlers) in the settlement of Kentucky

SS-4-G-S-3—Students will investigate interactions among human activities and the physical environment in regions of Kentucky:

  1. explain how people modified the physical environment (e.g., dams, roads, bridges) to meet their needs
  2. describe how the physical environment (e.g., mountains as barriers or protection, rivers as barriers or transportation) promoted and/or restricted human activities (e.g., exploration, migration, trade, settlement, development) and land use in Kentucky

SS-4-HP-S-1—Students will demonstrate an understanding of the nature of history using a variety of tools (e.g., primary and secondary sources):

  1. investigate and chronologically describe (e.g., timelines, charts) significant events in Kentucky history, from early development as a territory to development as a state
  2. interpret and describe events in Kentucky’s history in terms of their importance
  3. examine cause and effect relationships that influenced Kentucky’s history
  4. explain reasons that different groups of people explored and settled in Kentucky
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Using a projected map of Kentucky, show students the Appalachian Mountains. How did they act as a barrier to the early settlers? How did they act to protect the Native Americans who lived beyond the Appalachian Mountains?

Discuss the difficulties of crossing an uncharted mountain. Show them a close-up map of Cumberland Gap (available from the Planetary Science Institute web site). Point out the meteor crater where Middlesboro is located today and the valley of Yellow Creek leading to the gap in Pine Mountain.

Project a map of the Historic Wilderness Road (download from the National Park Service web site) and distribute physical maps of Kentucky. Have students find the Cumberland Gap and trace the Wilderness Road on to their maps.

Discuss why Cumberland Gap and the Wilderness Road were important not only to the settlement of Kentucky, but also to the westward expansion into territories further west. Have them label your community, the Ohio River, the Kentucky River, the Big Sandy River, the Green River, the Cumberland River, and the Licking River. Lead a discussion about how early settlers might have reached your community.

Extension activity: Have students research the history of your community and create maps showing the routes of the early settlers.

Standards:

SS-5-G-U-1—Students will understand that the use of geographic tools (e.g., maps, globes, charts, graphs) and mental maps help interpret information, understand and analyze patterns, spatial data and geographic issues.

SS-5-G-S-3—Students will investigate how humans modify the physical environment:

  1. describe how people modified the physical environment (e.g., dams, roads, bridges) to meet their needs during the early settlement of the United States
  2. analyze how the physical environment (e.g., mountains as barriers or protection, rivers as barriers or transportation) promoted and restricted human activities during the early settlement of the United States
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Show Programs 3 and 4 of the KET video “Kentucky's Story” (available through KET Encyclomedia). Discuss how the video presents the perspective of a 10-year-old in the family of colonists who travel to Kentucky via the Wilderness Road.

Ask students to write one journal entry about the settlement of Kentucky from, choosing from one of the following perspectives:

  • A child in the family of colonists who are preparing to travel to Kentucky via the Wilderness Road
  • A child in the family immigrants newly arrived in the Colonies who are deciding whether or nor to travel to Kentucky; or
  • A child in a Cherokee family who opposed the sale of land to the Transylvania Land Company.

Alternative activity: Students may present their perspectives as dramatic monologues.

Standards:

SS-5-HP-U-1—Students will understand that history is an account of human activities that is interpretive in nature. A variety of tools (e.g., primary and secondary sources) are needed to understand and analyze historical events.

SS-5-G-S-3—Students will investigate how humans modify the physical environment:

  1. describe how people modified the physical environment (e.g., dams, roads, bridges) to meet their needs during the early settlement of the United States
  2. analyze how the physical environment (e.g., mountains as barriers or protection, rivers as barriers or transportation) promoted and restricted human activities during the early settlement of the United States
  3. explain how different perspectives of individuals and groups impact decisions about the use of land (e.g., farming, industrial, residential, recreational) in the United States.

EL-5-WC-S-2—Students will write to demonstrate learning and understanding of content knowledge (e.g., on-demand responses, open responses, expository reports)

EL-5-WC-U-2—Students will understand that different forms of writing are appropriate for different purposes and audiences across the content areas and have different features (e.g., journals, on-demand responses, narratives, articles).

EL-5-WC-S-7—Students will communicate understanding of ideas or events from different viewpoints

EL-5-WC-S-9—Students will use and sustain suitable voice or tone

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Discuss with students the practical aspects of settling in a wilderness area in the 1700s. What are the basic needs of all people? How did the early settlers provide for these needs? What tools and supplies would they need to take with them to have a good chance of survival in Kentucky?

Divide students into “settler families.” Assign each family a mode of transportation depending on their economic status (i.e., wagon pulled by oxen, horseback with extra pack animals, on foot with pack animals, on foot with no pack animals). Allow each family to decide on the ages and roles of its family members.

Have the families discuss the hardships they will face and what they need to take with them into the wilderness to be as prepared as possible given the limitations of what they can transport. Have each team prepare a list of what they will take and make presentations to each other. As a class discuss the outcomes.

Standards:

SS-5-CS-U-1—Students will understand that culture is a system of beliefs, knowledge, institutions, customs/traditions, languages and skills shared by a group of people. Through a society’s culture, individuals learn the relationships, structures, patterns and processes to be members of the society.

SS-5-E-S-1—Students will demonstrate an understanding using information from print and non-print sources (e.g., documents, informational passages/texts, interviews, digital and environmental) of the connection between resources, limited productive resources and scarcity:

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When land companies were trying to recruit settlers for a trip into Kentucky, they often described Kentucky as “The Best Poor Man’s Land,” a place where even poor people could afford to purchase land and start a new life. Brainstorm with students the aspects of Kentucky that would have had appeal for this audience. Divide students into “land companies” seeking to recruit settlers. Have each group write a persuasive advertisement extolling the virtues of Kentucky.

Extension: Add illustrations and publish the advertisements as travel brochures.

Standards:

EL-5-WC-S-9—Students will use and sustain suitable voice or tone

EL-5-WV-U-1—Students will understand that writers need to choose their language with care, depending on the content, purpose and audience.

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