The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is looking to change the narrative about American Indians in classrooms, transforming how teachers are teaching history to achieve a more inclusive, accurate and complete education. The Cherokee Nation was one of many Native nations to lose its lands to the United States. As part of its national education initiative, Native Knowledge 360 Degrees, the National Museum of the American Indian has launched a new online educational resource available for educators and students titled, “The Trail of Tears: A Story of Cherokee Nation Removal.”
The new online materials, which incorporate the written Cherokee language, tell the story of the removal of the Cherokee people from their original homelands in the Southeast — Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky. In particular, the digital lesson highlights the numerous strategic efforts of the Cherokee Nation to avoid removal and the Cherokee people’s persistence in rebuilding their nation after ultimately being forced to move to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, during the 1830s.
“Native Knowledge 360° is aligned with the work of many Native nations, states and organizations that share a common goal of making American Indian education a priority,” said Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “Americans do not know enough about our shared history even to be properly offended at the lack of an inclusive narrative that illuminates the history of this continent in all of its complexity. By offering better materials to our educators about American Indians, we are looking to create a more empathetic and better educated citizenry.”
“It is an honor for Cherokee Nation to collaborate once again with a renowned institution like the National Museum of the American Indian,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We applaud the efforts of the museum to educate a new generation of young people and provide them with a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of forced removal and the impact it has had on our country. Participating in NK360° is a wonderful opportunity to share the Cherokee story, our unique history and heritage and showcase who we are in the 21st century. They will learn about the resilience of the Cherokee people and see that we remain a vibrant and essential part of America’s tapestry. It is an inspiring story, a truly American story, and sadly, it is getting lost in our country’s classrooms. It is our responsibility to ensure the true accounts of the Cherokee people are accurately documented and available for the public.”
Produced by the National Museum of the American Indian in collaboration with leaders, historians, scholars and other community members from the Cherokee Nation, this interactive uses primary sources, quotes, images and short videos of contemporary Cherokee people to tell the story of how their nation resisted removal and how they survived to celebrate and sustain important cultural values and practices today. This resource was designed to help students and teachers better understand an important and difficult chapter in the history of both Native nations and the United States.