Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Virtual Classroom Field Trip with Lewis & Clark

The Lewis & Clark Corp of Discovery setup a virtual classroom, made up of middle school students from the Omaha Nation in Macy, Nebraska and middle school students in Clayton, Missouri. The students in Macy gave presentations on the Omaha language and the social hand game played by the Omahas. The Omaha tribe realized the importance of maintaining the language and promoting the culture. One effort in maintaining and preserving the culture is by offering an Omaha language class as part of the school's curriculum. The success of this effort is evident in the Omaha Nation student's ability to speak their language.

Also participating in the demonstration were Dwight Howe, Doran Morris, and Pierre Merrick of the Omaha Nation. The history, traditions, culture, and contributions of the Omaha Nation was an important aspect of this endeavor. Their goal was to share information with the middle school students in Clayton, Missouri the geographical locations of the Omaha tribe, then and now; the lifestyle of the tribe at the time of the expedition 200 years ago; the political structure of the tribe then and now; actions of important Chiefs; agricultural practices of the tribe; the tribe's clan structure and social order; and the importance of the buffalo hunt to the tribe. The importance of keeping the language alive and functional was also discussed. The panel talked about the current government status and demographics of the Omaha Tribe in Macy, Nebraska.

I thought this was a very good way of reaching other students in another state. It helped to put a face on us as Indians and we were able to have direct dialogue via a satellite hook-up. Instead of just reading about the Omaha they got to see and hear from kids much like themselves and we as Omaha men were able to give our opinions and perspectives as to our history and cultural values. I am impressed with the Lewis & Clarks Corps of Discovery II project goals and objectives in regards to the Native American Indians' own history. They seem to really want to hear our side of the story as told by Indians about Indians. History has volumes of literature about the Native American Indian, unfortunately most of it has been written by non-Indians. All in all it was quite an enjoyable experience.

Click on the title to view the video.