General goals: To examine versions of the Klondike discovery story and encourage students to think critically about different perspectives on historical events.
Curriculum links: Applications of Social Studies: It is expected that students will develop alternative interpretations from varied sources.
Materials and equipment: A print out of the
three versions of the discovery
story (PDF 74KB). A print out of the worksheet (PDF
36KB), and answer key (PDF
Introduction: Ask students to think of a time when they had heard different versions of the same event. Or have some people play a game and the rest observe and then compare stories of what happened. Discuss a couple of these situations as a class. What factors contribute to the differences in the stories? How do the different people feel about their versions?
Activity: Have students read all three versions of the discovery story, (or read them aloud to the class, or have students read aloud in turns). Encourage student engagement with the stories by discussing similarities and differences among the versions, and encourage students to express their reactions and opinions. Then have students answer the follow-up questions on the worksheet.
Option: First read the Keish, and Carmack versions. Before reading Robert Henderson's story, discuss the first two versions. What do the students think happened on Bonanza Creek? Who deserves the credit for starting the gold rush? Then read the Henderson perspective, and discuss again. Finally hand out the question sheets.
Conclusion: Discuss the three versions of the story and student responses to the question sheet as a class. Relate this instance of conflicting stories to student's lives, and the idea that sometimes it is impossible to know exactly what has taken place in the past. Discuss the importance of gathering as much information as possible and considering all aspects of a story before reaching a conclusion. What might be the consequences of not doing this?
Extension: Have students research the discovery story on their own. What information can they find? Which version(s) does this new information support? Are there any other versions of events on Bonanza Creek in 1896? Has research changed any student's opinion about who deserves credit for starting the gold rush?