MISSION US "A CHEYENNE ODYSSEY"
GIVES MIDDLE GRADE STUDENTS A PLAINS INDIAN PERSPECTIVE ON WESTWARD
EXPANSION IN THE UNITED STATES
Third mission in a series of online role-playing
games helps students understand change and continuity in the lives
of the Northern Cheyenne
announces the launch of "A Cheyenne Odyssey," the third
interactive game in the Mission US series of captivating, digital
role-playing games created to engage middle grade students in the
exploration of U.S. history. "A Cheyenne Odyssey" debuts
on October 16, 2013, and supports the study of westward expansion
in the middle grade American history curriculum. The game engages
students as they take on the role of a twelve-year-old Northern
Cheyenne boy in the 1860s. Students can access the game via streaming
and download through any Internet-connected computer at mission-us.org,
making this history resource available to students in school, at
home, in libraries and anywhere they access instructional content.
Mission US is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association
with WNET with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
(CPB) and additional support from the National Endowment for the
"Mission US taps into the ways 21st century students learn
and explore content. Through immersive digital media and the engagement
of gaming, students 'live' history and learn through experiences
only this multimedia approach can deliver," said Neal Shapiro,
president and CEO of WNET.
In "A Cheyenne Odyssey" players take on the role of
Little Fox, a fictional member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. As
players "live the life" of Little Fox, they experience
sweeping changes and challenges and must choose how to react and
adapt to the encroachment of settlers, the expansion of the railroads,
the decline of the buffalo and the rise of the reservation system.
Eventually Little Fox, now a grown warrior, will fight in the Battle
of the Greasy Grass, known to non-Indians as the Battle of the Little
Bighorn or Custer's Last Stand. With each change and each choice,
players learn about the persistence of the Cheyenne through national
""A Cheyenne Odyssey" is the first game to present
the Northern Cheyenne perspective on real events our people experienced,"
said Dr. Richard Littlebear, President of Chief Dull Knife College
and advisor to the project. "However, this is much more than
a game about the high and low points of our history. It teaches
students how to make decisions and how to live with the consequences
of those decisions, just as one has to do in real life."
As students play "A Cheyenne Odyssey," they gain insight
and understanding of westward expansion and its impact on America's
native peoples, the economy, the landscape and environment. They
interact with traders, railroad workers, soldiers and settlers who
forged their way west to expand the United States. Accompanying
curriculum activities and rich supplemental resources, including
maps, visuals, artifacts, and more, deepen students' understanding
and perspectives about the historical context of the period. The
game also includes embedded "smartwords" to build vocabulary
and support learners' growing historical literacy.
Content for "A Cheyenne Odyssey" was developed by
historians and educators at the American Social History Project
(ASHP)/Center for Media & Learning, a research center at the
Graduate Center, City University of New York, in close collaboration
with representatives of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe at Chief Dull
Knife College, a community-based and tribally-managed institution
located on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in southeastern Montana.
Dr. Littlebear and his colleagues consulted on educational content,
scripting, design, and casting for the game. All actors voicing
the roles of the Northern Cheyenne characters are Northern Cheyenne
themselves, lending authenticity and accuracy to the production
of "A Cheyenne Odyssey." Jeffrey Ostler, Beekman Professor
of Northwest and Pacific History at the University of Oregon, and
Christina Gish Hill, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Iowa
State University and author, Dull Knife Had a Family, provided additional
advisory support for the game, which is informed by standards-aligned
curriculum concepts and deeply grounded in scholarship. THIRTEEN
worked with Electric Funstuff, an educational software company that
specializes in using game design to create effective learning experiences,
on the design, development, and production of the game.
Mission US addresses the pressing instructional need to engage
middle grade students in the exploration, discovery, and understanding
of U.S. history. The goal is to encourage students to care about
history by assuming the roles of peers from the past. The first
game in the series, "For Crown or Colony?" puts players
in the shoes of a 14-year-old printer's apprentice in 1770
Boston. "Flight to Freedom," the second game, gives students
an eye-opening experience as a fictional 14-year-old enslaved young
woman in Kentucky in 1848.
Mission US has more than a half-million registered users and
growing, including approximately 483,000 players and 27,000 teachers.
The game series is part of a larger initiative by the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting (CPB), under its American History and Civics
Initiative, to evaluate the potential benefits of digital history
games for student learning. In 2011, Education Development Center
(EDC) completed a major research study examining the use of Mission
US by 1,118 seventh and eighth grade students in 50 schools across
the United States. In the study, students demonstrated measurable
gains in historical knowledge and skills. Summary findings are available
at cpb.org/features/missionus. Mission US is also a featured project
of CPB's American Graduate program, an initiative to combat
the nation's dropout crisis.
Each game in the Mission US series includes a comprehensive
collection of resources and materials for teachers and librarians.
These include document-based questions (DBQs), an array of primary
sources, activities, vocabulary builders, standards alignments,
writing prompts and visual aids, as well as professional development
videos showing teachers using the Mission US games with their students.
The game is compatible with Internet-connected computers and with
most interactive whiteboard programs. Support materials, like all
the games in Mission US, are free.
The fourth mission in the Mission US series, "The Sidewalks
of New York," is planned for release in late 2014. This game
will focus on urban life in the early 20th century, through the
eyes of a young Jewish immigrant who settles on New York's
lower east side and becomes involved in the growing labor movement.
Mission US also recently received a contract award from the U.S.
Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES)
Small Business Innovation Research Fund (SBIR) to produce the fifth
mission on the Great Depression, "California or Dust!"
which will be the first Mission US game released both online
and as a tablet app.
Mission US was recently named a finalist in the 2013 Japan Prize
Competition, honoring the best of educational media. It has also
earned a 2013 Webby Award Official Honoree designation, a 2013 Common
Sense Media ON for Learning Award and a Gold Medal from the International
Serious Play Awards. Mission US is produced by THIRTEEN Productions
LLC in association with WNET. Sandra Sheppard, THIRTEEN's director
of Children's and Educational Programming, is the executive-in-charge.
Jill Peters serves as executive producer, with Michelle Chen, producer.
In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary
of THIRTEEN, New York's flagship public media provider. As
the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV,
WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming
to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents
such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American
Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries,
children's programs, and local news and cultural offerings
available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming,
WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh
Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring
compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights
the tri-state's unique culture and diverse communities through
NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news
magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader
in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the
THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for
CPB, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress
in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment
in public broadcasting. It helps support the operation of more than
1,400 locally-owned and operated public television and radio stations
nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research,
technology, and program development for public radio, television
and related online services.
Additional funding for Mission US is provided by the National
Endowment for the Humanities.