After watching a short video, students write an essay to answer the question, “How did the lifestyle of the Mandan people facilitate the spread of smallpox?”
This lesson is part of "Great States: North Dakota | Unit 4: Early Exploration" - an examination of the factors that drew people to explore North Dakota and how these early visitors impacted American Indians.
4.2.4: Use chronological order and sequence to describe the cause-and-effect relationships of historical events and periods in North Dakota (e.g., how the railroads led to settlements in the state)
4.2.6: Describe the daily lives (e.g., roles, shelter, significance of bison) of the first inhabitants of North Dakota.
8.2.10: Analyze the rationale for western expansion and how it affected minorities (e.g. reservations)
- Video: Lewis and Clark Pathways | Smallpox
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or other type of screen to project videos to the class
- Class set of the Mandan People and Smallpox handout
Tell students that they will be watching a short video about the spread of smallpox through the Mandan people. Smallpox was a serious infectious disease, meaning it was contagious, and it could be fatal. It caused a distinctive skin rash and fever. Explain that American Indians had no previous exposure to smallpox and other diseases to which the new explorers and fur traders had immunity.
Provide students with the Mandan People and Smallpox handout. Instruct students to take notes on lifestyle factors of the Mandan people that facilitated the spread of smallpox while they view video.
Play the video, Lewis and Clark Pathways | Smallpox [1:11].
On their handouts, have the students write a three-paragraph essay answering the following question, “How did the lifestyle of the Mandan people facilitate the spread of small pox?”
Points to look for in student essays:
The vaccine for smallpox hadn’t yet arrived this far west. [0:09]
The Mandan people were settled in one area, versus other tribes like the Sioux who moved from place to place. Because of this, the Mandan stayed in contact with the virus. [0:42]
Even after people were sick and dying, the Mandan wanted to stay in their villages, rather than leave to escape the disease. [0:42]
This allowed the virus to spread through the entire community. As a result, the Mandan were almost completely wiped out, leaving only 150-200 survivors. [0:54]