Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Choices that Affected our History

Why do people make the choices they do?

This question, with regard to our 2012 exhibit on the History of Western New York: 1650-1850, has been the topic of ongoing conversations between myself and my education co-conspirator, Ray. We continue to contemplate the motivations for decisions and actions of Native Americans, Europeans and Americans acting on the stage that eventually becomes what we know today as western New York state.

Why did the Iroquois and the Huron struggle for supremacy in the fur trade with the Europeans?
Why did Jesuits risk injury and death to set up missions in such a, to them, forbidding place?
Why did some early colonists stay loyal to the British cause?
Why did American men and women willingly uproot their families to settle in the wilderness soon after the Revolution ended?

Our list of motivations for Native Americans, Europeans and Americans presently looks like this: Perhaps people are seeking:
Economic or political self determination, stability or survival
To serve and maintain political loyalties or undercut rivals
To advance community welfare and/or for personal gain
To uphold tradition and/or spiritual beliefs
Community/family acceptance
Personal freedom from government/religion/civilization
To leave an imprint on posterity
A new start or a new beginning
Influence or control over others
Professional opportunities
Adventure –the opportunity to test oneself or discover something unknown

We invite our readers to add to our list which continues to evolve and while you are contemplating motivations, think of this:
How does one’s perspective of time affect decision making?
How does one’s perspective of identity affect motivating factors?
Is the person first and foremost an individual or a member of a group?

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to this project;-)
    Can this be a topic for the Social Studies Departments to incorporate into the curriculum locally?