What Can We Learn from the History of the Oregon Trail?

What can we learn from the history of the Oregon Trail?

By studying the history of the Oregon Trail we can learn a few different things.
  • What happens when two cultures meet.  (European pioneers and Native Americans)
  • How people can survive (or not survive) on long journeys with very little support.
  • What skills are needed to undertake an exploration of unknown or only partly known lands (this has applications for future space exploration.)
  • What kinds of tools, materials, animals and food stuffs give better success rates for survival?
  • What made some groups or families thrive and others not thrive or even survive?
  • Is there a principle law of successful emigration and survival?  What is it?
  • How do small groups interact in stressful and isolated situations?  (again, applications for space exploration.)
  • How diplomacy failed in interactions between pioneers and Native Americans.
  • How cultural bias make or break diplomatic relations.  
  • How technology creates its own success, how it reproduces itself and how technology memes spread.
  • What happens to a civilization when it is surprised by invaders with advanced weaponry.  What strategies are most successful at fending them off?   Could Earth fend off advanced Alien invaders?
If you were to go on a long journey mostly by foot, what items would you consider essential?  If you were leaving your homeland forever, if you were to say goodbye to Mom and Dad, never to return, what would you take with you?  Remember, you only have a space of about two or three cubic feet for everything.