New Tools Offer a More Complete Education About Native Americans

To start the new school year, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is offering new K–12 distance learning resources and live programs for teachers and students who are interested in a more inclusive, accurate and complete education about Native Americans.

Here is a look at the latest offerings:

The museum’s national education initiative, Native Knowledge 360° (NK360°), offers digital lessons for K–12 students, teacher guides and videos. Several lessons are also available in Spanish. The newest module, “Early Encounters in Native New York: Did Native People Really Sell Manhattan?,” designed for grades 4 and 5, provides Native perspectives, images, documents and other sources to help students and teachers understand how the 17th-century fur trade brought together two cultures, one Native and the other Dutch, with different values and ideas about exchange.

The museum’s educators will lead a series of virtual fields trips focusing on a variety of different topics for students in grades 4 through 12, including Indian removal, Indigenous innovations and treaties between the U.S. and the Native Nations of the Northern Plains. These free, live, interactive programs are conducted via Microsoft Teams and can be booked through Microsoft’s Skype in the Classroom website. The field trips should be reserved at least two weeks in advance. A minimum of 10 students is required to register.

The new series of free webinars “Youth in Action: Conversations About Our Future” is targeted to middle and high school students. Students can hear from young Native activists and change makers from across the Western Hemisphere who are working toward equity and social justice for Indigenous peoples.

In the U.S., Native Americans experience higher suicide rates than any other racial or ethnic group, and mental wellness is an integral part of combating this issue. During the second Youth in Action webinar on Thursday, Sept. 17, at 4 p.m. (EDT), students can join a conversation about community healing and learn how Native youth at the forefront of the mental health movement are addressing mental wellness by creating their own community-based programs, resources and advocacy. To sign up, visit

The museum is partnering with Teaching for Change to present a virtual teach-in about Indigenous peoples’ histories and contemporary experiences with food and water justice for teachers on Sept. 12. Keynote speaker and internationally renowned environmental justice advocate Winona LaDuke (member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg of the White Earth Reservation) will kick off a program of interactive workshops featuring classroom resources available on the museum’s Native Knowledge 360° website and provided by the Zinn Education Project’s Teach Climate Justice Campaign. The teach-in will be held virtually via Zoom, and the $15 registration fee will cover online classroom resources.

Through these new distance learning programs, teachers and students can learn about the rich, complex and dynamic histories and cultures of the Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere.

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