The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC is offering three new guided school programs in conjunction with the opening of its "Americans" exhibition for students grades 4 - 12. The museum has collaborated with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience to build dialogue around the topics and themes explored through the exhibition. Through these programs, the museum's cultural interpreters invite students with varied experiences and differing perspectives to engage in an open-ended conversation with the express goal of personal and collective learning.
The programs are based on three themes:
"Powerful Images, Powerful Words"—Students will explore the ways in which Indian names and images—both historical and contemporary —continue to shape how people think about American Indians. The program will focus specifically on how contemporary images of Pocahontas and the Plains Indian warrior can provide new understandings of familiar events in American history.
"Telling the American Story" —The American story is profoundly shaped by American Indian history, yet the stories told about American Indians are often false and almost always incomplete. By experiencing stories about the first Thanksgiving, Pocahontas and the Battle of Little Bighorn, students will reflect on what makes a good story, why it matters who tells the story and how the way stories are shared determines what we remember. This program will explore possibilities for retelling stories and remedying myths about American Indians.
"Influence, Leadership and Authority" —Students will have the opportunity to examine how the dynamics of leadership, influence, and authority have played an important role in key moments of American history. Federal policies regarding American Indians, such as the Indian Removal Act of 1830, have been the result of major national debate. Students will discuss how the decisions leaders make continue to shape America's relationship with tribal nations.