Online lessons from the National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian ( ) has created some excellent resources for teaching about Native Americans in schools. Their resources are well-researched and use Indigenous sources.

Below are some pages that I think are especially useful. I also heartily recommend a look at the other resources they have available on their website.

Essential Understandings

This webpage introduces 10 essential areas that pupils should cover to get a good understanding of Native Americans. For each area, there is a list of key concepts:

Possible task:

Pupils get one area each, and read and present the key concepts to the others in class. 

These key concepts can be revisited later to make sure that all areas are covered. This should help ensure that learning about Native Americans is balanced, rather than focusing on one or two aspects (as I find is common in textbooks).


American Indian Removal

“This online lesson provides perspectives from Native American community members, documents, maps, images, and activities to help students and teachers understand an important and difficult chapter in the history both of Native Nations and the United States” (from the website).

The lesson starts with an introductory video about the removal of Native Americans, before presenting general information, different perspectives and then the example of the Muscogee people, including interviews with descendants. There is a teacher’s guide and a student workbook to go with the lesson (these can be found at the start of the lesson).

I think this is an excellent online lesson, as it brings an important part of Native American history to life and encourages a deeper understanding. I like the variety in source materials used – could these be used in teaching pupils how to bring different sources together in an essay/presentation?


How Do Native People and Nations Experience Belonging?

“This online lesson provides perspectives from Native American community members, images, objects, and other sources to help students and teachers think about the significance that homelands, kinship systems, and nationhood hold for Native Peoples of the Northern Plains” (from the website).
After a general introduction, the lesson answers these key questions for four different tribal groups; Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Oceti Sakowin and Affiliated Tribes:
  • What Gives Native Nations a Sense of Belonging to the Land?
  • How do Kinship Systems Work to Create a Feeling of Belonging?
  • What are the Rights and Responsibilities of Belonging to a Native Nation?


Possible task:

After looking at the introduction together, pupils can work in groups of four with one tribal group each. Then they can share their knowledge with each other, and work on the final interactive task together.
I think this lesson gives pupils an excellent insight into aspects of Indigenous knowledge systems, especially as it lets Indigenous peoples themselves talk about their ways of life and connection to land. To me this lesson is much preferable to using a textbook.