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Timeline Perspective

History 1: The student examines and understands major ideas, eras, themes, developments, turning points, chronology, and cause-and-effect relationships in US, world and Washington State history.

GRADE LEVEL: Secondary

BASIC CONCEPTS: Timelines are a linear representation of facts or knowledge and are helpful as an organizing tool. One of the biggest complaints Native people have had with mainstream textbooks is the fact that most timelines have traditionally begun with the year 1492. This is a marginalization of cultures that flourished for thousands of years before non-Indians arrived on this continent. We can begin to correct this grievous error by adapting the perspective offered in this lesson and corresponding timeline.

ORGANIZING GENERALIZATION: Many state and federal offices do the work for the public and organize facts/knowledge that can be relevant to our field of study. American Indian archeological sites in Washington State is the subject for a new poster highlighting Washington State Archaeology Month (October 2000).

CULTURE AREA: Washington State

TIME PERIOD: 12,000 BP to present.

BACKGROUND: Many archaeological sites are located in Washington State that verify the presence of American Indian cultures as early as 12,000 BP. When looking at a timeline such as the accompanying one, it is important to note the juxtapositioning of the information. This particular timeline gives world archaeology sites that most people are aware of (Great Pyramids, Stonehenge, Great Wall of China) in a unique perspective, in relation to events occurring in Washington State.


Knowledge Students will: (History 1.1) understand historical time, chronology, and causation.

Skills Students will: Be able to ask questions pertaining to each goal of modern archaeology: How old is it? What did people do at this time and place in the past and what were their lives and daily activities like? What is the character and cause of cultural change?

Values Students will: group events and individuals by broadly defined historical eras and use time lines to explain patterns of historical continuity and change in the historical succession of related events.

ACTIVITIES: Students will select one of the Washington State historic archaeological sites and will investigate the artifacts or features of their site. They will report their findings to the class along with the answers to the questions listed under the skills section of this lesson.

EXTENSIONS: Students could construct their own timeline of their families history, citing where the information came from (must be verifiable). A circular representation of a timeline would be unique and relevant to American Indian viewpoints. Since each date on the timeline corresponds to a world event it would be an excellent opportunity to use one of the specific events as a topic for essay writing, creative writing assignments, or a compare and contrast paper.

EVALUATION: Each student report should be assembled into their own timeline alongside the poster. (For EXTENSION)As long as the information on a timeline is factual, any focus would be acceptable.


Poster - World Class Archaeology in Our Backyard- available from the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, Olympia, Wa. FREE!

The three main goals of modern archaeology: (for use with questions in Skills section)

  • To establish a chronological framework of the past
  • To reconstruct the cultural patterns and lifeways of a given culture in the past
  • To explain how cultures have changed over time

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