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New Web Tool Shares Indigenous Environmental Knowledge with Students

A new website developed by the National Museum of the American Indian aims to share four tribes’ indigenous knowledge and cultures, and how this ancient knowledge shapes their response to environmental challenges. The website, American Indian Responses to Environmental Challenges, was created in collaboration with the Akwesasne Mohawk of northern New York, the Campo Kumeyaay Nation of southern California, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe of northern Minnesota and the Lummi Nation of Washington state. The new website is designed primarily for middle and high school students, however, adults will also enjoy the interactive features, videos and information.

One intriguing 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 website.
Teachers can access lesson plans that meet national educational standards for social studies, history, science and environmental education.

Michael Connolly, former tribal chairman and environmental consultant for the Campo Kumeyaay Nation, said that NMAI asked his tribe to participate. “Our stream restoration project has been written up in several publications,” says Connolly. “One of the curators was aware of the work being done and asked if our project would be a good project for the website.” Campo’s effort to restore its once-pristine watershed in its rural San Diego County reservation was documented through many interviews with tribal members, scientists, teachers and students. The site is a pilot for NMAI’s national educational outreach program.

“I think it’s a great example of combining traditional and modern science,” Connolly added. “I forwarded the link for the site to a colleague at San Diego State University, who said she is going to use it in her classes.”

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“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 NMAI’s associate director for museum programs Tim Johnson, Mohawk, in a statement. “With this website, we hope to not only bring attention to their work, but begin to change the way that students see American Indian people.”