Today we took a day to explore the "old West" by trying to piece together the community of Helena, Montana through the lens of a murder that took place there in 1870. The process helped us see the material covered in our chapter in a more "real life" form, but also gave us the opportunity to do history in a more detailed way than we have so far in the class. The take away at the end of this activity is best encapsulated in our response to the question typically asked at the end of this exercise: "so, what really happened?" You now know as much as anyone on this particular event. This is how history is made, through the accumulation of evidence leading to the reconstruction of plausible narratives. There is always a degree of uncertainty in history. Hopefully, however, you realized that there are some verifiable historical truths. while we may never know for certain what exactly transpired in Ah Chow's cabin that night in January, 1870, we can definitively determine who was involved in the event, what Helena was like at the time of the event, the kinds of lives lived and justice systems developed by these people in the process of inventing new lives for themselves.
Tomorrow, you have the opportunity to do some more historical thinking as you discuss and debate your analysis and interpretations of tow historian's points of view on the issue of genocide in relation to Native Americans. Be sure you have your pre-write ready to go!