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        Idaho | Activity 4.5: Mormon and Protestant Missionaries Come to Idaho

        Students explore the history of Mormons settlements in Idaho, their journey along the 1,300-mile Mormon Trail, and their interactions with native tribes.

        Lesson Summary

        Students explore the history of Mormons settlements in Idaho, their journey along the 1,300-mile Mormon Trail, and their interactions with native tribes.

        This lesson is part of "Great States: Idaho Unit 4: Explorers", which helps students to develop a balanced view of people who took the risk to travel, work, or settle in a new place. The materials and activities will highlight the strength and courage they demonstrated, however, the conflicts, struggles, and disappointments experienced by various groups of pioneers will also be examined.

        Time Allotment

        10 minutes

        Learning Objectives


        4.SS.1.1.2: Describe ways that cultural groups have influenced and impacted each other.

        4.SS.1.1.3: Explain the role of explorers and missionaries in the development of Idaho.

        4.SS.5.1.1: Analyze the roles and relationships of diverse groups of people from various parts of the world who have contributed to Idaho’s cultural heritage and impacted the state’s history.

        Supplemental Standards:

        Boise District 413.14: Explain the role of missionaries in the development of Idaho. 



        1. Project for or hand out to your students the following two images:

          Joseph Smith (1805-1844), founder of Mormons, preaching to Indians | World Religions: Mormonism

          Explain to students that this drawing is of Joseph Smith (1805-1844), founder of Mormonism, preaching to American Indians. In 1830 he establish the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and members are called Latter Day Saints or Mormons. Mormonism is a branch of Christianity. In the 1830’s and 1840’s he traveled west preaching his beliefs to the American Indians he encountered along the way. 

          Mormon Trail Center | World Religions: Mormonism

          Explain to students that this photo is a statue of Mormons heading west, and is displayed at the Mormon Trail Center of Historic Winter Quarters in Nebraska. After Joseph Smith’s death, thousands of Mormons who had previously settled in Nauvoo, Illinois thought it best to leave after experiencing growing harassment for their beliefs. Brigham Young led 148 people out of Nauvoo along the old Oregon Trail. They headed west by wagon and handcart in search of better lives. Once settled in Utah, other Mormons followed suit. The statue shows a family with a pushcart and the little belongings they could carry with them.
        2. Explain that the areas Mormons settled in the west became known as the Mormon Corridor. Large populations of Mormons settled in Utah, but others made homes in Southern Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, and Nevada. Today, Idaho has the third-most Mormons of any state, after Utah and California.
        3. Ask your students to raise their hands to answer the following questions:
          1. What is Joseph Smith holding in his left hand? 
          2. What do you think Smith is doing in this image?
          3. What are some of the cultural differences between the American Indians and the Mormons that are presented in the drawing?
          4. In the photograph of the Mormon Trail sculpture, what is the artist trying to say by showing the wagon being pulled by a person rather than by a horse or oxen?

        Answer Key

        1. a Bible
        2. Preaching to them about the virtues of converting to Christianity.
        3. e.g., different styles of dress, different mannerisms
        4. Mormons were poor and struggling; often could not afford animals of burden, so did the hard work themselves.



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