When Rivers Were Trails

Student Category

By Indian Land Tenure Foundation & Michigan State University

Watch the VIDEO

Description: When Rivers Were Trails is an educational 2D adventure game developed in collaboration with the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and Michigan State University’s Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab thanks to support from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The game follows an Anishinaabeg in the 1890’s who is displaced from Fond du Lac in Minnesota to California due to the impact of allotment acts on Indigenous communities. 

Skills and Ideas Taught: Indigenous rights such as hunting, fishing, and canoeing through minigames. Information about allotment and its impact on Indigenous land and people. Strategies of colonization of Indigenous people including displacement, boarding schools, and restrictions to cultural expression such as ceremonies. Stories of resilience from Indigenous voices.

Goal or Challenge: Players are challenged to balance their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing with foods and medicines while making choices about contributing to resistances as well as trading with, fishing with, hunting with, gifting, and honoring the life they meet.Ultimately, they strive to reach California and make a life for themselves even though they have been displaced.

Primary Audience:  ages 13-18

Assessment Approach: They must balance and maintain their Wellbeing (health) while making tough decisions about how to best use their foods and medicines, such as sharing with people in need or keeping what they have to themselves.

Game Engine: Unity

Operating System: Windows 10, Android, iOS, OSX

Platform: PC

Special Hardware: None