About Native Knowledge 360°

Native Knowledge 360° (NK360°) provides educators and students with new perspectives on Native American history and cultures. Most Americans have only been exposed to part of the story, as told from a single perspective through the lenses of popular media and textbooks. NK360° provides educational materials and teacher training that incorporate Native narratives, more comprehensive histories, and accurate information to enlighten and inform teaching and learning about Native America. NK360° challenges common assumptions about Native peoples—their cultures, their roles in United States and world history, and their contributions to the arts, sciences, and literature. NK360° offers a view that includes not only the past but also the richness and vibrancy of Native peoples and cultures today.

Essential Understandings about American Indians

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Essential Understandings are an educational framework of key concepts based on the ten themes of the National Council for the Social Studies standards. They serve as a foundation for educational materials developed by the NMAI. In addition, educators, curriculum developers, administrators, and others can use these Essential Understandings to conceptualize new curricula, lessons, and learning activities. This framework can lead students everywhere to new knowledge about American Indians as historical and contemporary people with diverse cultures and roles, namely as diplomats and leaders, civic engineers, orators, scientists, agriculturalists, participants in global events, and much more.

New Materials for Teachers and Students
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This NK360° online lesson explores the vast scope of removal and its effects on Native Nations.

The NMAI is creating new online educational materials that embrace a richer and more inclusive discourse about American Indians. The NMAI uses innovative technology and media to engage students and enhance their learning. Mindful of today's classroom demands and priorities, the NMAI creates materials of a manageable scope that directly address Common Core, social studies, and other standards. NK360° lessons are scaffolded and student-based, engaging students with compelling questions and explorations of new ideas. NK360° materials reflect the NMAI's newest exhibitions and world-class collections while highlighting some of the most relevant and crucial stories from the histories and contemporary lives of Native peoples. Created in collaboration with Native communities themselves, NMAI resources bring the Native voice directly into the classroom. NK360° offers teachers and students of various grade levels a rich selection of geographically and culturally diverse resources from which to choose.

Professional Development for Teachers

The NMAI's goal is to build a nationwide network of master teachers, trainers, and advocates for improved teaching and learning about American Indians. The NMAI is currently developing online and in-person platforms for professional development. Teacher Training Institutes are the centerpiece of the NMAI's professional development opportunities. The Institutes are hosted in Washington, D.C., and around the country, featuring interactions with the NMAI's educators, scholars, world-class collections, and exhibitions along with experts from Native communities. Teachers learn foundational concepts for understanding and teaching about American Indians. They are immersed in the NMAI's newest instructional resources and have opportunities to create new materials specifically for their own classrooms. After participating in multiple Institutes, teachers will be eligible for certification as NMAI Master Teachers and Trainers. Over time, the network of Master Teachers will grow and increase the use and impact of new resources developed by the NMAI.

In the future, the NMAI will offer a variety of additional online opportunities for teachers to develop their expertise, including webinars, online courses, social media, teaching demonstrations, and opportunities to share their favorite lessons with other teachers. To maintain regular communication with teachers, the NMAI also offers a quarterly teacher e-newsletter with important information, teaching resources, and professional development opportunities.

National Advocacy and Partnerships

NK360° is aligned with the work of many Native Nations, states, and organizations that share a common goal of improving teaching and learning about American Indians. By supporting collective efforts and engaging in creative collaborations with like-minded organizations, the NMAI seeks to elevate the national dialogue and accelerate change on this important educational issue. At national and regional conferences, through symposia, scholarly publications, and media presentations, the NMAI adds its voice to the cumulative call for new and more effective approaches to education about American Indians. The NMAI's objective is that these efforts will result in a better-educated American public—one with an increased understanding of the complexity, diversity, and relevancy of Native peoples. Most important, Native youth themselves will no longer have to question why their stories are absent from their education.