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In the Classroom > Unit Overview
Lessons: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Lesson 8: "Modern" Interpretations

Unit Central Question:

In This Lesson:

How did the cultural characteristics, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and economic conditions of the French, English, and Indians contribute to the growth of inter-group hostilities, fighting, and attacks in the late 17th and early 18th centuries?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas
Activity 1
Activity 2
Activity 3
Lesson Length

Activity 1: 2 hours
Activity 2: 1 hour
Activity 3: 4 hours

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background
  • In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, stories of the early colonial period in Deerfield and of the attacks were re-told in a variety of media. For example, the Allen sisters, who photographed Deerfield at the turn of the century, posed people in costume, reenacting 17th century activities and events. Early movies like "Ononko's Vow" were made about the period.
  • Later in the 20th century, children's paper dolls and action figures representing people from the colonial era were created and sold.
  • There is bias inherent in these source materials. The stories they tell are not accurate representations of the period, but rather they are staged to express the maker's perception of what transpired. The sources can be "read" and analyzed to understand the point of view they represent.

For more information read:
Teacher Background Essay: Colonial Revival.

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

1. that the Allen sisters' photographs were staged representations of what the sisters thought the Native Americans, Puritans, etc. looked like during this early colonial period.
2. that there can be a variety of interpretations for what photos portray. They will further understand what the photos depict, where, when, how they were taken, by whom and for what purpose they were taken, and the point of view represented in them by their creators.
3. the discrepancies and/or differences between a realistic and authentic portrayal of history and an often-accepted inaccurate portrayal as illustrated in modern-day toys, paper dolls, photographs, and silent film.
4. how people in 1910 interpreted the Native American and English relationship of 1675 and 1704 through viewing the 1910 film "Ononko's Vow", and they will also understand why the film maker may have portrayed these people as he did.
5. that modern day interpretations also can be inaccurate and biased. They will gain this information by analyzing the paper doll collection, books, and 1704 action figures.

Students will be able to:

1. analyze the details of a film (setting, plot, main characters, purpose in making, etc.) and of photographs.
2. determine if bias and/or unrealistic portrayals are depicted in the source materials.

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In Preparation for Teaching

1. Review teacher background readings about the film "Ononko's Vow" ("Ononko's Vow. A Colonial Tale" frame notes, "Ononko's Vow" article from Kinetogram, "Ononko's Vow" program notes)
2. Copy Allen Sisters' photographs and Photo Interpretation Worksheet
3. Obtain a copy of the 1910 film, "Ononko's Vow," from the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, MA. by sending an email to the Teachers Center.
4. Review questions for directed questioning activities listed in the "Activities" section of this lesson plan.
5. Copy "Olde Deerfield Dolls" paper dolls with accompanying booklets, pictures of action figures and accompanying booklet, Allen Sister's Photo Interpretation Sheet and Questions About Paper Dolls and Action Figures worksheet
6. Copy final rubric.
7. Read teacher background essay on Colonial Revival.

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

1. Allen sisters photos: War Dance , Hostilities, 'Native' Carrying Captive Eunice Williams, 'Puritans' Led Off in Captivity, The Letter of the Law.
2. 1910 Thomas A. Edison Company film (Kinetogram) "Ononko's Vow" by Herbert S. Streeter.
3. "Ononko's Vow. A Colonial Tale," list of frame notes Herbert Streeter.
4. "Ononko's Vow" article from The Kinetogram (September 15, 1910).
5. Program Notes to Accompany "Ononko's Vow," by David R. Proper.
6. "Olde Deerfield Dolls" Paper Doll Collection and accompanying booklets.
7. Deerfield Massacre Action Toy Set and accompanying booklet.


1. Allen Sister's Photo Interpretation Sheet
2. Questions About Paper Dolls and Action Figures worksheet
3. Student Assessment Rubric Concerning Pocumtuck and English Perspectives During the English Occupation of Deerfield
4. Teacher background essay on Colonial Revival

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Activities Materials in Context

Activity 1
Photographs and Film

A. Distribute copies of the Allen sisters' photo of the Puritan Englishman entitled, The Letter of the Law.

1. Instruct students to examine the photo closely. Lead a discussion about him using the following questions:

  • What time period do you think this man is from? How can you tell? Do you think they had cameras in that time period?
  • Can you tell from this picture what his profession is by the way he is dressed?
  • How is he dressed?
  • What does his posture communicate?
  • What do you imagine he is thinking?
  • Do you think this picture was posed or natural?
  • Do you think this is an accurate portrayal? Why or why not?
  • What do you think people 200 years after the attack thought about Puritans?
  • Why do you think the photographer took this picture?
  • If you could climb into this picture, what might you say to or ask this man?

2. Distribute the Allen Sisters' Photo Interpretation Sheet and the other Allen Sisters photos. Each child should receive one photo. Ask them to use their photo to fill out the worksheet.

3. Ask students to think about what their photographs portray and determine whether the depiction is biased or unbiased and true to the time period, based on what they have learned from studying the photo of the Puritan Englishman. Students should try to defend their decisions based on their analyses and their knowledge.

4. Instruct students to present their photo and findings to the class.

B. Show students the 1910 film entitled "Ononko's Vow."

1. Discuss the film with the class [Note: Include in your discussion the setting of the film, the time period depicted, Native American and English portrayals, evidence of any stereotyping, the film creator's feelings about the Native Americans, the purpose in making the film, and who the possible viewers were.] List the main characters. Make an outline of the plot. Ask:

  • What time period do you think is depicted in the film? Do you think this film was made recently? How can you tell?
  • Do you think the film was shot inside or outside or both? How can you tell?
  • Do you think the English are portrayed accurately in this film? Why or why not? What changes might you make?
  • Do you think the Native Americans are portrayed accurately in the film? Why or why not? What changes might you make?
  • Describe how you think the film creator felt about the English. How did he feel about the Native Americans?
  • Do you see any evidence of stereotyping? Explain.
  • Is the story line fair to everyone involved?
  • Why do you think the film was made? What message do you think it gives?
  • Who do you think the audience was intended to be?

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Allen Sister's Photo:
The Letter of the Law














Photo Interpretation Worksheet

Other Allen Sisters photos:

War Dance


'Native' Carrying Captive, Eunice Williams

'Puritans' Led Off in Captivity


Ononko's Vow film

Activity 2
Toys and Books

A. Place children in discussion groups. Distribute copies of the paper doll collection with accompanying booklets to some groups and pictures of the action toy set with its accompanying booklet to the other groups. Also distribute one copy of Questions About Paper Dolls & Action Figures to each group. Explain that each group will examine and analyze their toy and accompanying booklet for historical accuracy, stereotyping and fairness. Instruct one child to serve as secretary in each group to record answers on their questions sheet. Explain that each group will be asked to discuss their findings and defend their opinions.

B. Discuss how people today have designed these 1704 action figures and paper doll characters and accompanying booklets using modern interpretations of the early colonial period. Tell students to draw upon what they now understand about the people of the period to answer the questions and formulate their opinions.

C. After groups have had sufficient time to study the toys and answer the assigned questions, give each group time to report their findings and defend their opinions.

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"Olde Deerfield Dolls" Paper Doll Collection and
Accompanying Booklets

Action Toy Set
and accompanying booklet

Questions About Paper Dolls & Action Figures worksheet

Activity 3

A. Distribute the Student Assessment Rubric.

B. Instruct students to write an essay describing, comparing, and contrasting the Indian and English perspectives during the period before and during Queen Anne's War. Ask students to use the rubric to guide their writing. The essays should sum up student learning for the unit.




Student Assessment Rubric

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Use students' oral presentations and the Allen Sisters Photo Interpretation Sheet to assess the degree to which students achieved the intended learning outcomes for this lesson. Use the essays (with the accompanying rubric) to assess students' unit learning.

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