When Rivers Were Trails

If you have been teaching for a while, you probably remember the computer game, Oregon Trail. This game takes a different view and gives students the perspective of Indigenous communities that were impacted by the allotment acts. The game was developed by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, Michigan State University’s Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab, and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

The gamemaker explains this is a blend of fiction and nonfiction, with many of the inspirations coming from family stories based on what happened during the Allotment Act. Students will see this part of history from a different perspective.

Similar to Oregan Trail, as you leave and head on your journey, you will be asked to make decisions about trading, hunting, and other aspects of the journey. Depending on the situations encountered and the choices you make, your supply of wellbeing, food, and medicine will be increased or dwindle. Various situations will appear requiring student to read, determine a course of action, and deal with the consequences of those decisions.

Family stories are presented and students will experience some of the harsh realities from this period of history. Preparing your students and classroom discussion are essential to get the most from this simulation.

This game is available as a free PC or Mac Download. Check out the game and see if it is a match for your students and your curriculum. It is available from the App Store for IOS devices.

The PC version can be dowloaded from https://indianlandtenure.itch.io/when-rivers-were-trails.

The Indian Country Today website includes an interesting article with background information on some of the stories included in the game.