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Five History Walks for Teaching Texas History

by Miguel Guhlin
history walks
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It’s easy to forget the true account of what happened to peoples of color in the past. Let’s explore five history walks that can put you in touch with what happened in Texas. Some involve visiting a place or space, while others include watching videos or studying art that depicts historical events.

Interrogating Historical Accounts

For many Texans, what you learned in history class is missing critical parts. You may know about the Three Hundred, those first settlers to Texas who came at Stephen F. Austin’s request. You may not know that their “livestock” and “workers” included black and indigenous enslaved people.

Amidst acts of history banning, a walk through gravestones and markers might not be such a bad idea. These may reconnect us with our past, helping us discover our own ignorance of what happened.

“People…want to sugarcoat and change the narrative,” Keaton says. “But if you can’t talk about something, can you ever heal from it?” Dr. George Keaton, Jr, Founder/Executive Director of Remembering Black Dallas. (source)

You may find that visiting physical spaces isn’t always necessary. You can indeed find out a lot about Texas online. But let’s explore a few options for virtual and in-person connections with history.

history walks

History Walk #1: Juneteenth

Commemorate Juneteenth, when enslaved people in Texas received notice of emancipation with a walk for freedom. This walk takes place in Galveston and features an app. Use the Android or iOS app to take the “Freedom Walk” challenge.

Some of the highlights include visiting the following:

  • Texas Seaport Museum
  • Absolute Equality Mural
  • Juneteenth Marker at the Osterman Building
  • The African American Beachfront
  • and more.

This may be the perfect perambulation to the TCEA Elementary Technology Conference in Galveston, Texas this June. Walk the steps, learn the history. Register now. Ready to begin the journey? Start here.

History Walk #2: Dallas Hidden History

A global pandemic has pushed some history walks online. While this virtual setting does change the experience, it also increases learners’ access. You can find a walking tour of Dallas’ hidden history online as a virtual presentation no matter where you are physically located. Find more information in this Texas Monthly article which shares the historical backstory of the walking tours.

History Walk #3: Texas Virtual Tours

The Let’s Texas website features a variety of virtual tours that will get you exploring. You will find mobile apps to discover Space Center Houston, tour the Texas State Aquarium, explore the Alamo via a virtual tour, and four more Texas-based locations.

The Alamo of Texas History

History Walk #4: Missions

El Paso offers several historical walks. Two of these walks include Segundo Barrio Murals and San Elizario Walking Tour. But San Antonio and El Paso both provide access to missions.

Missions of Texas History

You might also consider the El Paso Missions for study. It shares a few tales of the peoples of El Paso and subsequent history:

Missions of Texas History
Image Source: El Paso Area Missions

Before the arrival of the Spanish, El Paso had been inhabited for thousands of years by hunting and gathering peoples. Around A.D. 400, native peoples of the area began living in pithouse villages and experimenting with crops. Through time they built larger and more complex villages and by A.D. 1200, they were living in pueblos, relying heavily on crops for food, and participating in trade with peoples across the American Southwest and northern Mexico.

Start your exploration with the denizens of El Paso Valley.

Continue it with Missions, twelve to twenty-four miles southeast of downtown El Paso.

You can also take virtual tours of the missions in San Antonio:

Check them out.

History Walk #5: Trail of Tears

Did you know that the Trail of Tears runs through Texas? Looking for ways to commemorate the forced removal of Cherokee from their homelands with your students? You can follow a virtual overview via Google Arts and Culture.

Trail of Tears Texas History

In 1838 and 1839, as part of Andrew Jackson’s Indian removal policy, the Cherokee nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River. They migrated to an area in present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee people called this journey the “Trail of Tears,” because of its devastating effects. (source)

About sixty families of Cherokee ended up in Texas. They found themselves used as a buffer between American immigrants to Texas and Mexican Texas. The Cherokee War ended their stay in Texas. The Battle of Neches resulted in the death of thirteen tribes.

On July 16, 1839, more than 700 Texas Cherokees and allies from a dozen other Indian tribes made their final stand against a force of more than 900 Texas Rangers, Texas Army soldiers and Texas Militia volunteers. The Battle of the Neches was the largest conflict ever fought between Native Americans and Texans. The Cherokees were led by 83-year-old Chief Bowles, who had tried in vain to secure clear land title rights for his people in East Texas from both the Mexican and Texas governments. (source)

This battle took place twelve miles west of Tyler in Van Zandt County, where a Texas historical monument can be found. It is surrounded by a sacred circle, including meditation benches on compass points. Find the marker near Van at a rest area. It appears on the I-20 eastbound lanes and lies between exits 537 and 540.

But Wait, There’s More!

You can find several apps and websites that will enhance your history walks. Here are is a short list:

  1. Teaching Texas
  2. The Portal to Texas History
  3. Time Travel Tours (view on mobile)
  4. East Texas History (iOS)
  5. Texas 1836 (iOS)

And, of course, you can watch livestream history through the Bullock Museum’s Texas History Tuesday series.

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2 comments

Jean Potter February 21, 2022 - 8:17 am

Link to the “walking tour of Dallas’ hidden history” virtual presentation is not working, at least at the moment.

Reply
Miguel Guhlin February 21, 2022 - 9:41 am

Thanks, Jean. I’ve relinked to the top level, so that means you’ll have to hunt a little for the new virtual preso link (if they haven’t taken it offline).

With appreciation,
Miguel

Reply

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