The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, in partnership with four Indian tribes, launched last week a Web site to educate middle school and high school teachers and students on how tribes use their traditional culture, values and indigenous knowledge in combination with contemporary science and technologies to tackle environmental issues.
At the site, called “American Indian Responses to Environmental Challenges” and located at www.AmericanIndian.si.edu/environment, visitors can watch up to 20 videos, explore images and objects from the museum’s collection, learn Native terms and take quizzes to test their knowledge. An interactive feature, the “Story Project Planner,” allows students to document an environmental issue in their own community and upload their work for display on the site.
“Many people think of American Indians only as historical figures, but we are still here, vital communities dealing with important contemporary issues of cultural, economic and environmental sustainability,” said Kevin Gover, director of the museum, in a press release.
For thousands of years, tribal communities have thrived on, respected and protected their surroundings. Continued stewardship of the environment remains important to American Indians today.
The site’s tribal partners are: the Akwesasne Mohawk of New York, the Campo Kumeyaay Nation of California, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe of Minnesota and the Lummi Nation of Washington.
“The work these tribes are doing shows that we can do something about our endangered planet, and that their cultures are still vibrant and adaptable,” said associate director for museum programs Tim Johnson (Mohawk). “With this Web site, we hope to not only bring attention to their work, but begin to change the way that students see American Indian people.”