California’s history has many stories to tell and many people shaped our state. From the early Native Americans to the Spanish settlers to the Mexican soldiers to American conquerors, California has had many influential people in its past. But, who is the true hero of our state’s history?

The task:

Your task will be to research a representative of a group of people and present your findings to the class. You will need to try to persuade the class that the group of people that you represent is the true hero of California. Your presentation will be given with one member of your group role playing an individual from the group of people you represent. You may dress in costume, create artifacts to assist you, develop graphics to help persuade everyone, or come up with your own ideas that will sway the class to believe that you are the true hero of California.

The procedure:

In your group, decide who will be the representative to role play the “hero.” Your group will need to work together to build the information that your person will use in his or her presentation. Each member of the group will help find the important information for the person who will present the information to the class. You may use the links on this webpage to assist you in finding the information that you need. You may also use any other materials that you can find including social studies books and books that Mr. La Marr has.

There is a set of questions that you will need to answer. They can be found on this webpage. You may need to be a little creative in your answers to the questions. The main goal is to word your answers to that the audience will strongly believe that you are the true hero of California.

The information will be presented in an interview format with each of the “heroes” getting a chance to present his or her case to the class. Mr. La Marr will be the Master of Ceremonies to direct the questions to you and you will need to respond to them as if you are being interviewed. You may have note cards if you wish, but you should try to know your information thoroughly so it sounds like an interview.

The people:

~ a Maidu native to represent the group of Native Californians who first settled the area

~Father Serra to represent the group of Spanish settlers who came to California

~Jedediah Smith who represents all the early American explorers of the state

~a ranchero who represents the early ranchos that dominated California, provided food and boosted the economy

~a wagon train member who represents those who traveled west from America to settle the state for the United States

~John Sutter who represents the settlers who had business interests in California

~John C. Fremont who represents the later explorers and military men who helped gain California for the United States

~James Marshall who represents all the gold miners who rushed to California and lead to our early statehood

The links:

The Maidu

Fact Card of the Maidu Natives

Maidu Facts from a 4th grade class

Great information about many topics

In depth Information about the Maidu


Father Serra

Facts about Father Serra

Fact Card about Father Serra

A brief article about Father Serra

Father Serra from PBS-detailed article

Jedediah Smith

Fact card for Jedediah Smith

Jedediah Smith, the mountain man

A brief biography of Jedediah Smith

Jedediah Smith from The History Channel


Fact card for Rancheros

Introduction to Rancho Life

Lots of links to different topics

Mexican California-the days of the Ranchos

Wagon Train Member

The Donner Party

The Oregon Trail

Life on the Oregon Trail

Westward Expansion Facts

John Sutter

John Sutter from PBS

The Life of John Sutter

John Sutter's New Helvetia

Wild West Facts: John Sutter

John C. Fremont

Fremont in California

John C. Fremont from PBS

Fact Card for John C. Fremont

Fremont's Expedition into California

James Marshall

James Marshall Facts

James Marshall from PBS

Legends of America-James Marshall

James Wilson Marshall-small biography

The questions to answer:

    1.    What did you contribute to California?

    2.    How did you help California in becoming a state?

    3.    What did you teach to people who came in contact with you?

    4.    What challenges or obstacles did you face?

    5.    What was unique about your experience?

    6.    For what are you most remembered?

Click the icon for a copy of the questions that you can print and write on

Click the icon for a copy of the rubric