NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret
key issues in current events. This activity anticipates one class period,
but the follow-up essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Warm Up: Use
initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much your
Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the questions
on the reading comprehension handout.
Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the
issues outlined in the story affect their lives and express and debate
can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and
send it to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions
and/or their editorial.
Indian Museum Offers Unique Voice, 09/22/04
1. What is the purpose
of museums? Who do they serve?
2. What do you think of when you hear the term "Native American"
or "American Indian?"
Questions: (click here for printout)
1. What museum just opened? Where is it located and why is it significant?
The 254,000 square
foot Museum of the American Indian is the newest addition to the Smithsonian
Institution. Situated close to the U.S. Capitol, it may be the last
major addition to the museums and monuments that make up the National
Mall, an irony clear to many native visitors.
fitting," Merv George Sr., a Hupa medicine man, told the Washington
Post. "First peoples here, last place on the Mall."
2. What is the mission
of the museum and how do young people feel about this?
Hupa Emmilee Risling, the mission of the museum - to present and encourage
the contemporary living culture of the indigenous peoples of the Western
Hemisphere in their own voices - is in step with her thinking about
herself and her culture.
is really important to me," Emmilee, vice president of her Native
American Club in Hoopa, Calif., told the Washington Post. "That's
the way I've been raised."
19, an Ojibwa Indian from Bad River, Wis., who joined the colorful procession
of thousands who celebrated the opening of the museum, agreed.
important to represent where I come from, to celebrate with all the
other nations," she told the New York Times.
3. What makes this
museum spokesman Tom Sweeney, the museum's origins make it unique.
or native community represented has selected the objects that represent
them and speak in their own voice - and that's the first time it's been
done this way -- from the architecture, public programs to exhibitions,"
4. How is the NMAI
hoping to avoid traditional perceptions about museums?
avoid traditional perceptions of museums as places highlighting the
past, the NMAI creators hope visitors will recognize the active offerings
of native peoples today.
will leave this museum experience knowing that Indians are not part
of history," founding director, W. Richard West, a Southern Cheyenne,
said in a statement. "We are still here and making vital contributions
to contemporary American culture and art."
5. What is a criticism
of the new museum?
agree that the positive message fills them with pride, they think that
the exhibits don't touch enough on the atrocities that Native Americans
have suffered over five centuries.
that Old Glory should have blood dripping from every star for wiping
out native peoples, and that is not reflected here," Dwain Camp,
of the Oklahoma-based Ponca tribe, told the Washington Post.
6. How does the architecture
and landscaping around the building express native culture?
itself mirrors native sensibilities. Designed by Canadian Blackfoot
architect Dougles Cardinal, who left the project amid a legal dispute
in 1998, the outer shell is made of Kasota limestone from Minnesota.
The color and dramatic curves are meant to suggest a native landscape.
True to tradition, it faces East toward the rising sun.
of the building is really organic and curvilinear because we wanted
this building to appear as if it's an abstraction of a natural rock
formation that's been carved by wind and water over time," said
architect Duane Blue Spruce.
landscape features a wetlands area and important native crops such as
corn and squash.
is an extension of the exhibit. It is an exhibit. It is who we are.
From the native perspective, one shouldn't see the line between the
building and the earth. That line shouldn't be there," said Donna
House, a Navajo landscape architect and botanist.
(more research might be needed):
1. Why might it be
important for each native tribe to choose the way its culture is presented?
What impact does this have on a museum experience? How might it affect
the information presented?
2. Do you agree with
some critics of the new NMAI museum that it is too positive and glosses
over some painful events of the past? Why or why not? How should we as
a nation deal with past atrocities?
3. Research the architecture
and landscaping of the museum. How is it different and similar to other
museums on the Mall? Explain some of the key differences and what they
mean for the creators of the National Museum of the American Indian and
indigenous peoples in general.
Write a 500-800 word
essay on any of these topics providing clear examples. Send your completed
editorial to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com].
Exceptional essays might be published on our Web site.