Students examine photos of Annie Oakley, and learn about the connection between Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill. They then complete a KWLS worksheet answering questions about Annie Oakley.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Montana | Unit 5: European Settlement" where students will evaluate the conditions that made Montana a destination for settlement.
4.4: Identify and describe famous people, important democratic values (e.g., democracy, freedom, justice) symbols (e.g., Montana and U.S. flags, state flower) and holidays, in the history of Montana, American Indian tribes, and the United States.
6.5: Identify examples of individual struggles and their influence and contributions (e.g., Sitting Bull, Louis Riel, Chief Plenty Coups, Evelyn Cameron, Helen Keller, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks).
Helena District 6.4: Identify characteristics of cultural groups in Montana (American Indians, Irish, Scandinavians, Italians, miners, women, ranchers, etc.)
Helena District 6.5: Identify examples of personal struggles of historical figures in Montana history and how their struggles influenced their accomplishments.
Photo Gallery: Annie Oakley - Photo Gallery | Promotional Posters
An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show images to the class
Class set of Annie Oakley handout
Colored pencils, markers, and construction paper (optional)
Distribute the Annie Oakley handout to students. Instruct students to complete the K and W sections of the handout.
Give students some background about Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show was an entertainment performance that portrayed the relations between Native peoples and settlers, the continent’s natural resources, law and lawlessness on the frontier, and myths or legends of the West. The show’s elements included horse shows, gun shows, exotic animals, theatrical reenactments, and more. Annie Oakley joined the show in 1885. She was a sharpshooter and rodeo star who rose to fame quickly.
Show students the photo gallery, Annie Oakley - Photo Gallery | Promotional Posters. Note the following about each photo:
Annie Oakley Promotional Poster: This shows Annie Oakley as the star of the show. She was famous for being a sharpshooter and a rodeo star.
Annie Oakley Full Length Portrait Photo: This photo was taken while on tour with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Scotland.
Buffalo Bill’s Promotional Poster: This shows Buffalo Bill as well as action in the background. The Wild West Show was a story of relations between Native peoples and settlers, the continent’s natural resources, law and lawlessness on the frontier, and myths and legends of the West.
Explain that Annie Oakley’s family lived in poverty after her father died. As a result, Oakley did not attend school regularly. She took a job with a local family with the promise of fifty cents a week and an education, but neither of these terms were met. Instead, she worked for two years for the family, where she endured physical and mental abuse. She started trapping at age seven, and shooting at age eight, to sell game and help feed her family. A few years after her sharpshooter debut at age 15, she became America’s first female star. At the time it was nearly unheard of for a woman to have such prowess with shooting. It was also unusual for the time that, aside from Buffalo Bill, she was the top earner of the show.
Have students study the photos and then complete the KWLS handout.
Ask students: What challenges would have been unique for women living in the Wild West of the late 1800s?
Extend the lesson (20 minutes):
Distribute the art supplies and instruct students to create a sketch for a Wild West Show poster.
6. Challenges for women of the 1800s Wild West:
Women may not have felt safe, especially traveling alone
Many household items were in low supply or unavailable
Difficult to earn money
Lack of available healthcare for pregnant women and young children
Little contact with distant family and friends