MUNCIE, Ind. - Students across the country were among the first visitors to
the recently-opened National Museum of the American Indian during Ball
State University's March 22 electronic field trip.
The "Sharing Perspectives at the National Museum of the American Indian"
broadcast was the first distance-learning event from the Smithsonian's
newest museum. Its purpose was to demonstrate how the museum is a Native
place and home to diverse, contemporary Native people from throughout the
Native music and dance were demonstrated and discussed by museum staff.
Several students from the Milwaukee Indian Community School in Milwaukee,
the Irving Middle School in Norman, Okla. and the Hardy Middle School in
Washington, D.C. were on the show, answering questions and participating in
activities. Students watching the broadcast or Web cast could call in and
ask questions to American Indian museum staff.
The show's hosts shared stories from their own communities, said Mark
Kornmann, director of Teachers College outreach services.
"Families everywhere collect and pass on stories to preserve their
traditions. For many Native American communities these stories represent a
unique perspective on history and culture," he said.
"Through these stories, students will experience the diverse cultures among
Native Americans and have a better understanding of how many indigenous
people preserve, share and practice their traditions today."
The live, interactive field trip, sponsored by Best Buy Children's
Foundation, was expected to reach more than 15 million viewers in 49 states
and included captioning funded through a National Captioning Institute
Throughout the broadcast, viewers were encouraged to call in with questions
or submit them online in a live discussion forum. Videotaped questions
could also be submitted to be aired during the broadcast.
"The Web site is also an integral part of the field trip," Kornmann said.
Before the broadcast, teachers could download lesson plans focusing on how
a Native place is defined and how traditions carry Native American culture
and students, and preview the museum's exhibits.