Writing Prompts and Research Questions
The following series of questions can be used as “writing prompts” where students are asked to write a very short essay (one paragraph to one page) after they read the corresponding presentations found on this website.
Many of these questions are suitable for longer essays, for which supplementary library or Internet readings can be assigned.
Most of the questions are written for high school or college students. Some may be suitable as written or in modified form for younger students.
Use your own words to define archeology, history, and ethnography.
Compare and contrast the time spans and the amount of detail that can be studied using the methods of archeology, history, and ethnography.
What is the major limitation of archeology for understanding the past?
Why can’t we necessarily trust everything we read in historical documents?
Why might it be difficult for an ethnographer to study a community’s responses to the effects of long-term climate changes?
What is your favorite among the stories summarized in this section? What did you find most interesting about that story?
What is the main difference between a primary and a secondary creation story? Find one example of each.
What are the three realms of the Southeastern Indians’ universe? What are the main properties or characteristics of each realm?
Provide an example that illustrates a connection among the three realms of the Indians’ universe.
Animals are frequently involved in creation story events. Give three examples in which an animal’s distinctive characteristics or abilities figure into a story.
Describe a story scene in which a foolish or careless act produces a problem.
Describe a story scene in which a heroic act solves a problem.
Why are special rules required to care for the sacred fire?
Find three examples of the use of metaphors in Southeastern Indian creation stories.
Why can Indian creation stories be considered a kind of history?
Identify three Ice Age circumstances that played a role in the movement of people into the Americas. How did these circumstances affect human migration?
Why do most archeologists believe that the ancestors of American Indians came from Asia?
What routes into North America were open to early migrants from Asia?
Construct a timeline to include: 1) the arrival of people in western (Asian) Beringia; 2) the opening of major routes from Beringia into North America; 3) the earliest dates for the Clovis culture; and 4) the submergence of Beringia.
What evidence do archeologists use to reconstruct Paleoindian migration routes? What does this evidence tell us about how Paleoindians reached the Mid-South?
What is an adaptation? Give one example of an early Paleoindian adaptation in the Mid-South?
Identify an environmental feature of Ice Age Arkansas that differs from what we see today.
Imagine that you are a Paleoindian living in what is now Arkansas. Discuss three things you might do today.
Discuss three ways in which the Dalton culture differs from the preceding Clovis culture.
Make a list of tasks that Dalton people performed at different locations from their base camps.
How did environmental changes affect the livelihood of Dalton people?
What does the Sloan site tell us about the Dalton peoples’ beliefs?
How did Archaic Indians satisfy their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter?
Identify and briefly describe an Archaic Indian activity that probably would not have been performed by a Clovis or Dalton Indian.
Provide an illustration of how changing climates affected Archaic era communities.
What factors were involved in the Archaic Indian domestication of wild plant species?
What do earthworks and artworks tell us about Archaic Indian cultures?
What evidence suggests that Archaic Indians living at the Poverty Point site were involved in long-distance trading?
In what ways did the food-producing activities of Woodland Indians differ from those of Archaic Indians?
What Woodland Indian activities were directly affected by new technologies?
Describe three features of the Hopewell ceremonial complex.
What evidence suggests that status differences existed in Woodland Indian societies?
What similarities and differences can be identified in the ways Archaic and Woodland Indians built and used mounds and other earthworks?
What new concepts are reflected in Woodland era art?
In what ways did Woodland Indians express interests in astronomy?
If you were growing up in a Woodland Indian community, what would your learning be like if you were a girl? What if you were a boy?
Briefly describe Mississippian agriculture: what was produced, what tools were used, and how did agriculture affect the landscape?
What are some of the nutritional problems of an agricultural diet? How did the Mississippian Indians solve these problems?
Describe three characteristics of chiefly societies.
How did Caddoan chiefdoms differ from Mississippi Valley chiefdoms?
What evidence suggests the development of occupational specialization in Mississippian communities?
How do status differences in Mississippian societies differ from those in Woodland societies?
What factors can be associated with Mississippian warfare?
What Mississippian Indian beliefs are revealed by their artworks?
In addition to your sex (boy or girl), what other factors might influence your training if you were growing up in a Mississippian society?
What factors did Hernando de Soto consider as he plotted the route of his exploration through Southeastern North America?
What did Indians hope to gain by cooperating with European explorers?
What prompted Indian hostilities against European explorers?
Why were some Indian communities surprised by the arrival of European explorers?
How did Europeans and Indians communicate?
Aside from European explorers, what other problems did Indians have to cope with during the First Encounters era?
What objectives did Mississippi Valley Indians hope to achieve through the ceremonies they used to greet colonial visitors?
What did La Salle hope to achieve through the ceremonies he performed in the Mississippi Valley?
In what ways did Indians help support French colonies in the Mississippi Valley?
What kind of trade developed between Indians and colonists in the Mississippi Valley?
What is a “middle ground” relationship between colonial and Indian communities?
What was the U.S. government’s primary objective in dealing with Indians in the Old South?
Briefly summarize an example of the kinds of problems Indians faced as they were forced from their homelands.
Briefly summarize an example of Indian attempts to maintain a cultural practice in a newly occupied area.
What effects did the Civil War have on Indians in the Old South?
What effects did tribal relocations have on the maintenance of cultural traditions in Old South Indian societies?
What Indian cultural patterns did the U.S. government hope to eradicate through passage of the Dawes Act?
What were the main features of “revitalization movements” among 19th century Indian communities? What movements were popular among Arkansas tribes in Indian Territory?
Why did the acquisition of wealth in 19th century Indian communities sometimes produce unfavorable results?
What helped restore Indian rights in the early 20th century?
If you were growing up in a New South Indian community, what kind of education might you expect to receive?
How might you know if someone is an Indian today?
What kinds of services do modern Indian governments provide for their people?
How do Indians today maintain their cultural traditions?
How does NAGPRA affect relations between Indians and archeologists?