Educators are increasingly incorporating collaborative, high-tech pedagogies in the university classroom. When undergraduates are asked to produce research for an accessible, interactive website, their investment in the course significantly improves. What follows are several ideas for using IndianNation.org to explore Native American history at the dawn of the twentieth century while generating tangible results students can share. Developing content for IndianNation.org also can also introduce students to online research skills and library resources available at most universities. As we continue to grow, check back for more teaching suggestions or add your own.
Creating Community Profiles
Assign small groups of students a community highlighted on the interactive map. Using archival resources available through most university library websites as well as secondary literature published on the area, ask students to generate a community biography (200-400 words), describing the economy, demographics, and culture in 1900.
Often motivated by romanticism, Indian people are among the most photographed in North America, particularly in the early 1900s when many believed they were a “vanishing race.” Using digital archives from the period, have students match photographs with individual profiles on Indian Nation. These images can generate discussions not only about the assumptions of the photographer, but often the agency of the photographed.
Using the Interactive Map in Lecture
For decades, undergraduate survey courses on modern U.S. history would only briefly mention Indian peoples in the context of expansionary wars. Recent scholarship has challenged this framing, exploring the persistence of Native Americans in nearly all corners of U.S. society. The interactive map, a dynamic visual component for use in lectures, demonstrates that America is indeed an Indian Nation.