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Students get a blast from the past

Area students found out what it would be like to step back into the 1840s Wednesday as they learned a little about the fur trade in what was then the western frontier.

The program, Coffee, Colville & Company on the Southern Plains, is part of the Museum of the Great Plains Fall Encampment, which runs until Saturday.

Wednesday, a group of students with Epic Charter Schools got a crash course in 19th century living as part of the program. Students got the opportunity to learn about the dried foods available on the plains, how to start a fire with nothing more than steel and flint, how to load a flintlock rifle and how trading worked in a frontier “trade house.”

Living history interpreter Tim Poteet started the program out with a basic history lesson about the original Red River Trading Post, on which the trading post at the museum is based. Students then got the opportunity to not only learn about the types of foods that were common at the trading post during that era, but also got the opportunity to taste test some of the foods.

Living history interpreter Tim Swagerty, who also teaches at Midwestern State University, said he has been doing these types of programs for over 35 years and had learned that if you want kids to remember what you are telling them it is best if they can put the items in their hands and touch them or otherwise interact with the items. He also noted that historical lessons also carry more weight with students if you can immerse them in the time period they are studying.

Swagerty, who was dressed in Native American garb as part of the presentation, said he has never done one of his food presentations where at least one kid has taste tested the food.

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