On October 6th representatives of the Mathews Center and Auburn University travelled to Clarke County for classroom tests on our upcoming Creek War of 1813 issue guide. We worked in classrooms in Grovehill Elementary School, Jackson Elementary, and Clarke Prep. The guide is designed to fit in to Alabama’s fourth grade Alabama History curriculum.

During the test we provided brief historical context for the Creek War. We explored the following topics: the U.S. “plan of civilization,” Tecumseh’s visit to the Creeks, the establishment of the Federal Road, and the execution of a group of Red Sticks by the Creek National Council.

We asked students to imagine they were a Creek Indian in 1813. We then introduced, one after another, three different choices that Creek Indians considered in response to growing tensions and issues facing the Creek Nation in 1813:

  • Preserving freedom at any cost;
  • Ensuring the safety of family;
  • Making the best of the situation by aligning with the U.S.

Next, students deliberated the pros and cons of the choices and resulting actions. We asked them to focus on what is held most valuable in each choice. After students deliberated each choice, we led students to reflect on what they said and heard from each other, as well as what choice they think and feel they would make if faced with a similar decision.

The Results

Students responded well to the current framework, and were able to imagine the difficult tradeoffs the Creeks faced in 1813. Many students built off their classmate’s comments while listening actively to differing perspectives. Some of the classes became quite lively, and one young participant even persuaded his entire class to join the Red Sticks!

Students in Clarke County have access to Creek War history right in their backyard through Fort Sinqufield and the Clarke County Historical Museum. Both are excellent resources for learning more about the Creek War and we are appreciative of their partnership on this project.

Deliberative forums, like this, can help students develop valuable civic skills like critical thinking, communication, and active listening. The Mathews Center and Auburn University plan to complete the issue guide by early 2018. We also hope to develop more historical issue guides for all grade levels in Alabama. Let us know if there’s a historic issue you’d like us to explore!

Interested in learning more about historic issue guides and how they can be used in YOUR classroom or community? Contact DMC Civic Fellow Jessica Holdnak at jholdnak@mathewscenter.org to learn more. ​