Students watch a video about the diversity among homesteaders. Students learn and discuss the different types of people who came to North Dakota for land and if there is a “typical” homesteader.
This lesson is part of "Great States: North Dakota | Unit 5: Settling North Dakota" - a study of how and why North Dakota attracted diverse settlement.
4.2.9: Explain reasons for settlement in North Dakota (e.g., railroads, Bonanza farms, Homestead Act)
4.2.10: Explain the significance of agriculture in North Dakota history (e.g., immigration, railroads)
4.6.1: Explain how background and history influence people’s actions (e.g., farming methods, hunting methods, economic decisions).
- Video: Homesteading | Diversity Among Homesteaders
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or other type of screen to project videos to the class
- Tell students they will be watching a video about the different groups of people who came from all over the world to the Dakotas and Minnesota to claim land. The Homestead Act of 1862 gave land to those willing to move there and care for it for at least five years. The video describes the experiences of some of these people.
- Play the video, Homesteading | Diversity Among Homesteaders [4:25].
- As a class discussion, have students describe the different types of homesteaders. Ask: was there a typical homesteader? Take background, skills, and experience into account.
Diversity of homesteaders included: Swedes, Germans, Norwegians, Russians, Eastern US citizens, Canadians, Jewish people, and Polish people. There was no “typical” homesteader.
People had a variety of skills. Many homesteaders were farmers, but some were city dwellers. Some of the immigrants had money and supplies, and some did not. Some found the conditions to harsh and quickly left (usually non-farmers were the first to leave), while others persevered and made it work. Some had families with children who could help out, while others did not. Some were clever in ways to secure better or more land.