Indians of Arkansas
Background and Development
In the fall of 1996, the Arkansas Archeological Survey and the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of Arkansas were awarded a $180,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to develop educational software for studying Native American and European encounters in the Mississippi Valley. First Encounters was one of twelve projects funded out of more than 300 submissions in the first year of the NEH Teaching with Technology Initiative. The goals of the Initiative were to encourage creation of content-rich, computer-based materials for teaching history, literature, and languages; to create a nationwide forum for humanities education on the Internet; and to provide teacher training for the use of these programs. The First Encounters CD provided interactive, multimedia software enabling students to investigate many aspects of Native American and European encounters through study of original historical sources, including texts, maps, artworks, and archeological finds. Students could use these materials to solve problems and to answer questions posed in "hands-on" interactive learning exercises provided in English, French, and Spanish language tracks.
After sending nearly 2,000 First Encounters CDs free-of-charge to educators in Arkansas, the United States, and other countries around the world, by 2004 our stock was reduced to the point where we discontinued distribution. We created this website to expand upon the information and learning exercises provided on the CD. A major change is an expansion in scope from the First Encounters era to the entire sweep of Indian history pertaining to Arkansas and the Mid-South. Another change is our attempt to provide a framework for comparing and contrasting Indian and academic perspectives on the past. We believe that both perspectives are essential components of a comprehensive understanding of American Indian heritage.
George Sabo III, Ph.D., Survey Research Station Archeologist and Professor of Anthropology, University of Arkansas, developed the English-language modules for the First Encounters CD. Daniel Berleant, Ph.D., of the University of Arkansas Computer Systems Engineering Department, and James N. Davis, Ph.D., Linda C. Jones, M.A., and Luis F. Restrepo, Ph.D., of the University of Arkansas Department of Foreign Languages, developed the French and Spanish modules.
Unless otherwise indicated, Sabo developed the content for the Indians of Arkansas Website.
Deborah Weddle, B.A., Survey IT Support Coordinator, assisted with software authoring, provided graphics support, and is responsible for project Website development. Survey artist Jane Kellett, M.F.A., and Anthropology students Jennifer Richardson and Shannon McElmurry contributed a variety of digital illustrations.
John Samuelsen, B.A./B.S., Survey Computer Services Program Research Assistant, developed the Indians of Arkansas Website.
Deborah Sabo, M.A., Survey Publications Program Research Assistant, edited the Indians of Arkansas Website content.
Mary L. Kwas, M.S., Survey Education Specialist, served as First Encounters project manager.
A primary goal of the project is to help students answer the question: How does one derive from the archeological and historical record an understanding of what happened in the past? Interactive exercises engage students in the process of learning, thereby enhancing critical thinking skills.
We use a two-part strategy to achieve these objectives. First, we provide "hands-on" interactive learning exercises that simulate real-world research problems. Students use authentic historical sources in these exercises to develop their own answers to questions about Native American and European encounters. Second, the exercises are arranged in an "interaction spiral" of increasingly sophisticated queries that prompt students completing one level of investigation to tackle a more complex level of study. Our interaction spiral consists of three levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Students in middle school or junior high school will be able to complete the Beginner activities; high school students will increase general knowledge and analytic skills with the Intermediate activities; and college students should find a challenge in the Advanced activities. Students completing an exercise at one level are prompted to attempt the next level exercise. All users are encouraged to complete as many activities as they wish, and the Beginner activities provide useful introductory information for all users.
We will be grateful for any comments or suggestions you may wish to provide.
Thank you for your interest!
©2007, Arkansas Archeological Survey
(except where noted).