Like many other homeschooling families, our family loves anything
that allows for learning across different subject areas. Tar
Creek is a book that fills that bill. As the title states,
it is the historical account of the Quapaw Indians and how the
lead and zinc discoveries in the early 1900s affected them as a
Mr. Johnson begins by discussing two groups of the Dhegiha Sioux
who migrated--one group southward and the other westward--from
their original location in the Ohio Valley. The group that headed
southward became known as the Quapaw people, derived from "Ug'akhpa," meaning "Downstream
People." A presentation of Quapaw culture gives the reader a better
feel for the people and their customs. The impact of the early
explorers, such as Lewis and Clark as well as LaSalle, is discussed
at length so that the reader can gain an appreciation for how outsiders
can dramatically change the customs of a people group. An important
highlight to our family was the impact of the Civil War amongst
the Quapaws, an event that is usually characterized only as a struggle
between the Northern and Southern States and a discussion of the
enslavement of the African people. Never before in our studies
have we so dramatically seen the impact of this war on the Native
American groups. This was a powerful lesson to our children on
how our actions and decisions can affect others in ways that we
are not even aware of.
Part II of Tar Creek is an in-depth discussion and analysis
of the discovery of lead and zinc in lands belonging to the Quapaw
people. Once again, the Native Americans were dramatically impacted
by treaties with the white men. The treaties left the Quapaws being
taken advantage of once again as their lands were leased and mined.
Mining is a well-known industry to us today. To the Quapaws, who
worshipped Mother Earth, mining was a completely foreign concept.
When they fully realized what the white man was doing, the mining
was seen as a violation of their lives on many levels.
Discussion of the mining operations reveals the influx of outsiders
into the area, the ravaging and exploitation of the land, and the
way the area was abandoned when the natural resources had been
depleted. Anecdotal accounts and tales are presented to make the
historical impact come alive. Tar Creek comes to a close
with an account of the modern-day status of these communities,
lands, and people.
In reviewing entire text, we found lessons in anthropology, the
science and industrial practices of the mining industry, local
and global economics, and the health and environmental impacts
of mining as an industry. The study of the culture and customs
of the Quapaw people also provided an opportunity to evaluate their
culture based on Scripture.
Tar Creek is a publication from Tate Publishing. As with
many other resources from Tate, there is an audio download code
in the back of the text for those who like to listen while traveling
in the car or for those that are auditory learners. It is our family's
opinion that Tar Creek would make a wonderful unit study
for any high school or advanced junior high school student, especially
those who love to study Native Americans.