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Press on the image below to view a tutorial on how to play the Oregon Trail

Americans from all over the east coast yearned to travel to the west upon hearing of its vast resources and riches. However, the journey was dangerous and long. Venture out onto the plains in this game but make sure you are prepared to encounter Native people, animals, and plants along the way! I hope you make it!

The Oregon Trail


  1. View the tutorial by pressing on the image to the left
  2. Play the game for the duration of the period or until you make it to Oregon
  3. Respond to the questions in edio
  4. Press on the image below to begin your game!

Press here to go to the home page!

History Channel: The Story of Us


  1. View the video using edpuzzle
  2. Enter your name when you open the assignment
  3. Answer the questions embedded in the video
  4. Respond to the questions in edio

The video is presented by the History Channel series "America: The Story of Us" episode 6 - "The Transcontinental Railroad"About the image: A portrait by John Gast titled American Progress. It serves as an allegory for the idea of Manifest Destiny, meaning it is America's destiny to settle the country from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, and that pursuit is righteous and justified.

Press the image above to begin the video!

Press here to go to the home page!

Letters from the West


  1. View the YouTube video on the left, press the button below the video to see a description
  2. Read/listen to the letter from Bones Hook, An African American Cowboy
  3. Read/listen to the interview from Jean C. Slauson on early pioneer life

Press the image on the right to enlarge it, then press the button below to read/listen to a portion of Sara Wrenn's letter

Press on the image on the left to enlarge it, then press the button below to read/listen to a portion of Bones Hook's interview

Press here to go to the home page!

Interview with Bones Hook, an African American Cowboy

According to Bones, Skillety Bill got his name because he worked on the Frying Pan Ranch. Cowboys from the panhandle ranches in the early days went to Mobestie (early Sweetwater), adjacent to Fort Elliot, to "celebrate". Negro [sic] women in the families of colored troops stationed at the army post would see Bill Johnson coming and say "There comes that Skillety (their version of frying pan) Bill fellow". Skillety Bill figured in one of the most important episodes in Bones' life. The Negro [sic] boy was working at the time in old Greer County, which was a part of the "neutral Strip", locally called a second "No Man's Land". Bones, young and inexperienced, had hired out to wrangle horses for a certain cattleman. One day, while he was tending the horses and minding his own business, Vigilantes rode up and asked him, "Are you working for those cattlemen down the creek?" Bones admitted that he was. Before he could say, "Jack Robinson", the Vigilantes jerked him up and started to hang him on the nearest tree. They had already hanged the two white men mentioned to other convenient trees. One of them Bones knew to be innocent. He was only a young boy who had come into the country looking for work two or three days before, and who like himself, had hired out to the first men that offered him a job. But the Vigilantes, catching both of the white men with a herd of stolen cattle, took only circumstantial evidence into consideration and hanged them both. Bones was certain that they were going to add him to their victims, when Skillety Bill spoke up in behalf of the colored [sic] lad, saying that he was a mere boy, wrangling horses for the boss and only carrying out orders of the cattle thief, whom he had taken to be a bona fide cattleman.

"A red-haired man astride a limb of the tree gave the rope around my neck a rough jerk," Bones vividly recalled; "and said, 'Aw, come on, let's get it over with'; but Skillety Bill saved my life." After this narrow escape, Bones went into Oklahoma (then the Indian Territory) and so successfully "lost" himself that his own family and others thought him dead. At last he ventured back into Greer County. Walking through the streets of a Panhandle town, which he refuses to name, he came face to face with the sheriff (Skillety Bill). The sheriff looked at him closely and finally said, "I thought you were dead. How long are you going to be here?" "Only a little bit - a few days", Bones replied. The sheriff started off down the street, turned back, and said, "How long did you say you were going to be in town? Did you say's a little bit?" Bones answered quickly, "Yes, sir, a little bit". He knew what would happen to him if he did not get out of town in a "little bit" -- and he got.

Press here to view the entire interview with Bones Hooks!

The Oregon Trail is a computer game from 1992. It requires you to make hard choices as you complete your journey over 2,000 miles across the open Plains.

Play The Oregon Trail

Click here to complete this activity

  • Watch tutorial
  • Play the game!
  • Respond to edio questions

In this activity you will watch a History Channel episode of "The Story of Us". This video focuses on western expansion, the Transcontinental Railroad, cowboys, settlers/farming, and relations with Native Americans

The Story of Us

Press here to complete the activity

  • View the video using edpuzzle
  • Respond to questions in the edpuzzle
  • Respond to questions in edio

From roughly 1622 - 1924, European settlers, Americans, and Native Indians fought for land in the shrinking western frontier. As the East industrialized and the American government passed the Homestead Act, hundreds of thousands of American settlers streamed West, clashing with Native Americans. The newly built transcontinental railroad helped create towns and brought people west faster than ever before. By 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner argued the western frontier had closed, accomplishing manifest destiny. The video shows how this conquest resulted in the loss of land and cultural life for Native people.

The American Indian Wars

Jean C. Slauson's Account on Pioneer Life

"As actors in the drama of heroism, women in pioneer life make a striking presentment. Whether bidding goodbye, and godspeed, to the husband as he answered the call for volunteers to suppress an Indian outbreak that threatened frontier homes; going out to meet the slow caravan of returning comrades who bore her mutilated dead to her door; feeding a band of Indians, sullen and fierce, from her storehouse against her husband's return from the field... or under the shadow of expected maternity, creeping through bushes and down to the waiting boat, closely followedby her husband, rifle in hand, seeking safety in the blockhouse....I'm sure we've seen no picture In the volumes anywhere Of a tall, athletic woman, With long and streaming hair, Going out against the redskins [sic], To save a fleeing son, And with her strong hand grasping Her husband's trusty gun.

Thus sang a local pioneer poet, the son of a pioneer mother, some years ago. Yet a tragic tale of the border might thus be truly illustrated. The husband and eldest son were set upon and killed by Indians while on the range. A younger son, the shepherd boy, took alarm and fleeing toward home, pursued by the savages, was met and escorted in safety to the "inch-board shanty", where the heroic woman kept the foe at bay with her rifle until succor came, as told by the narrator in verse:And there on guard we found them, When four long days had fled, Half-crazed with sleepless watching And sorrow for the dead, And still that faithful mother, When we came, a saving band, Stood by the open doorway, With the rifle in her hand." Jean C. Slauson was born in 1884 and lived in Portland, Oregon her whole life becoming a teacher in adulthood.

Press here to view the entire interview of Jean C. Slauson

In this activity, you will look at a short YouTube video and read/listen to two letters - one from an African American cowboy. Another from a pioneer woman.

Reading Activity

Press here to complete the activities

  • View the YouTube video
  • Read/listen to the letter from Bones Hooks
  • Read/listen to the letter from Jean C. Slauson
  • Answer questions in edio

Warning - Please read before beginning

Historians recognize that language, culture, and the way people view the world change over time. Some terms, images, and points of view that were common in the past are considered offensive in today's context. The use of materials is intended to help the reader understand the historical record. When you interact with these resources, it is important to remember that you are viewing the world through the lens of the past to better understand change through history. When you read primary sources, you will sometimes see the bracketed term [sic]. It indicates a word is misspelled, is a grammatical error, or is sensitive language. Sic is a Latin term that means “as originally written,” therefore, you are reading the exact words spoken by the author of the text.