Do Monuments Tell "The Whole Story?"


Do Monuments Tell "The Whole Story?"


Washington State Library, Office of the Secretary of State

Grade Levels


In this focused inquiry, students investigate the question Do monuments tell the whole story?

Students engage in deep reading of primary source documents about the Battle of Steptoe Butte, which took place in 1858. Students will view the monument that was erected near the battle site. Then, they will read an account of the event as it was written in 1858 and then an account written in recent years. In small groups students will discuss the differences between the two accounts and analyze what voice/point of view is missing from the earlier source. Students will then revisit the monument and engage in a large group discussion. After they collect their evidence, students will write a well formed argument with a claim, evidence, and reason.

Lesson Objectives

  1. Students will be able to read primary and secondary sources and gather information that helps them answer compelling and supporting questions.
  2. Using primary and secondary sources, students will compare and contrast accounts of a historical event.
  3. Students will develop a claim with evidence and reasoning to answer the compelling question.

Source Materials

Featured Source(s):


Washington State Social Studies Standards:
  • SSS1.6-8.1 Analyze positions and evidence supporting an issue or an event.
  • SSS3.6-8.1 Engage in discussion, analyzing multiple viewpoints on public issues.
  • H1.6-8.4 Analyze a major historical event and how it is represented on timelines from different cultural perspectives, including those of indigenous people.
  • H2.6-8.2 Explain and analyze how individuals and movements have shaped Washington state history since statehood.


Compelling Question: Do monuments tell “the whole story?”

Staging the Question:

Ask students: What monuments have you seen? For what purpose were they erected, do you think? Are they erected to honor individuals, groups, or ideas? Do monuments tell the whole story?

Supporting Question: How do we work as historians to review many sources in order to get a larger understanding of events in the past?

Formative Performance Task:

Individually or in pairs, students will work with each source and answer sourcing questions provided. Then, students will read each text with the compelling question in mind and gather details about the account in each source.

Argument: Using details from the featured sources, craft an argument that answers the compelling question. Students should have a claim, evidence from sources and reasoning that provides an analysis of evidence connected to their claim.

Taking Informed Action:

Students can create a new monument to commemorate the Battle of 1858. Students can contact the Spokane Tribe of Indians to communicate their ideas and designs.

Heffernan 1_ Do monuments tell the whole story_.pdf