When the Pilgrims arrived in America, they found land perfect for settling. All of the trees had been cleared next to a beautiful stream full of fish. Flattened fields, perfect for crops, stretched as far as the eye could see. But it wasn't just the Pilgrims. Many English settlements around New England found the same perfect places to live. What happened?
The story of the Pilgrims -- or any early arrivals to the New World -- is often told from a European perspective, focusing on their brave efforts to colonize a New World. A perspective that is only recently getting the scholarship it deserves is how a European-borne plague of measles and smallpox devastated up to 90% of Natives before most had ever met a European -- and thereby making the colonization of the New World much less challenging than it otherwise would have been. This activity dives into that topic and asks content and deep-thought discussion questions, which have always led to good discussion for me.
I use this activity during/after teaching about the Pilgrims, but it could easily be modified to the New World in general or to other regions or groups.