National Indian museum sharing online materials with teachers
Middle school students using NMAI Native Knowledge 360 Degrees material. COURTESY
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is looking to change the narrative about American Indians in classrooms, transforming how teachers are teaching history to achieve a more inclusive, accurate and complete education.
“Native Knowledge 360 Degrees” or NK360°, is part of the NMAI’s national education initiative. The NMAI has launched new online educational resources about the Pawnee Treaties and the Inka Empire that will expand teachers and students’ knowledge and understanding of the contributions and experiences of Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere.
The education initiative challenges common assumptions about Native peoples - their cultures, their roles in U.S. and world history and their contributions to the arts, sciences and literature. It advocates at the national level for teaching an American history that integrates important Native American events in the nation’s narrative and recognizes the richness and vibrancy of Native peoples and cultures today.
“‘Native Knowledge 360°’ is aligned with the work of many Native nations, states and organizations that share a common goal of making American Indian education a priority,” said Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “Americans do not know enough about our shared history even to be properly offended at the lack of an inclusive narrative that illuminates the history of this continent in all of its complexity. By offering better materials to our educators about American Indians, we are looking to create a more empathetic and better educated citizenry.”
Between websites, teacher guides, teaching posters and digital lessons, there are about 30 classroom resources and numerous related materials available for educators and students that embrace a richer and more inclusive discourse about American Indians. “The Pawnee Treaties of 1833 and 1857: Why Do Some Treaties Fail?” provides Native perspectives, images, documents and other sources to help students and teachers understand the difficult choices and consequences the Pawnee Nation faced when entering into treaty negotiations with the United States.
The two new modules dedicated to the Inka Empire are available in English and Spanish versions. “The Inka Empire: What Innovations Can Provide Food and Water for Millions?” highlights how the need to feed and provide water for millions of people across a vast territory led to Inka innovations in water management and agriculture. Many of these innovations are still in use today by indigenous communities in the Andes.
“The Inka Road: How Can a Road System Be an Example of Innovation?” explores a variety of sources to learn about the engineering of the Great Inka Road system and the Q'eswachaka suspension grass bridge.
Collaborating with teachers, curriculum developers, national education organizations and working within state and national standards, NK360° uses innovative technology and media to engage students and enhance their learning. Mindful of today’s classroom demands and priorities, the museum creates materials that directly address Common Core, social studies and other standards and that can be scaled and adapted by teachers.
Also created in collaboration with Native communities themselves, the museum’s resources bring the Native voice directly into the classroom. NK360° offers teachers and students of various grade levels a rich selection of geographically and culturally diverse resources from which to choose.
NK360° was created to provide educators with essential understandings about American Indians that serve as a framework for teaching about Native American history, cultures and contemporary lives. The initiative offers pre-K to post-secondary teacher training to build new skills, awareness of classroom resources and the confidence to improve their teaching.
The National Museum of the American Indian acknowledges the support of the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation in the development of these educational resources.