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When Rivers Were Trails

A game about the impact of allotment acts on Indigenous communities in the 1890's. · By indianlandtenure

I needed this game <3

A topic by SpaceOwlPro created 22 days ago Views: 40
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I needed this game!  I have been digging into the culture of Native American tribes in my region.  I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana, so the tribes that I'm most familiar with are Myaamia, Delaware, Shawnee, and Potawatomi.  I have been familiarizing myself with the Myaamia language since they have some great online dictionary apps that digitized their language with audio pronunciation clips too!  There were some similarities to the Myaamia language in the Anishinaabe language presented in the game.  The Myaamia Center at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio is responsible for most of these apps.  Check them out if you haven't!

Overall, I think this game is a powerful way for people like me of Euro-American Settler descent to experience a more truly represented history of the land.  Experiencing the strife of the various tribes, and how they had to make incredibly complicated decisions that weighed negative effects on their own tribe, and other tribes around them, against retaining their very right to the land that they live on...  I can't even begin to scratch the surface of the complexity of these decisions, but this game makes a helpful step in conveying that.

I also weighed the design choices of this game against the game that it is comparing itself to, Oregon Trail.  One thing that I noticed was that this game seems to make your decisions weigh less than those of Oregon Trail.  I haven't played that game, but I have heard that it is notoriously difficult to stay alive.  When you consider that Oregon Trail is basically propaganda to push forward the romanticized strife of Euro-American Settlers, and to convey that we (Euro-American Settlers) now have earned this land because of all of that... creating the game so that it is difficult to survive effectively conveys that message.  Flip over to this game, When Rivers Were Trails, I noticed that the game made it fairly easy to survive.  I played for 3 hours, and died only toward the end and restarted from the last save.  I believe, and I'm only speculating, that this is because the game devs wanted the player to learn these stories and learn more about the complexities of the tribes decisions during this pivotal period in this land's history...  Oregon Trail was incredibly formative for people my age who grew up playing it in school, and what did it teach us?  That our ancestors struggled to get here when all paths lead to death and dysentery.  

I just wish that we could go back in time and put this game on all of those computers instead.  Teach kids what was and still is really going on around us. 

Anyway, I could write more, but I just want to say that I love this game.  Super well drawn, written, paced.  I love how the gameplay mechanics like hunting, canoeing, and fishing broke up the usual flow of the game.

Thanks for releasing this!!

I've been following the work of Elizabeth LaPensée now and can't wait to see how work in Where the Water Tastes Like Wine plays out.  (I don't know why I haven't played it yet!  :P)

<3 Kurt