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Google Earth, Harvard Project offer earth-moving insight into tribal successes

As the first American Indian organization featured on Google Earth, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development offers an interactive map that zooms users to 360-degree overhead and street-level views as it shares stories of tribal government successes and thriving Native communities.

“The vision of our partnership was to provide online users a chance to virtually visit and learn from tribes,” said Moana Palelei HoChing, assistant director of educational outreach for the Harvard Project and its Honoring Nations initiative. “Their stories offer inspiring lessons of youth leadership, constitutional reform, business development, land management, child care and housing for communities around the world.”

Through Google’s new storytelling platform, Voyager Story offers curated virtual exhibits, a visually rich geographic information system (GIS), Google Street View, informational YouTube videos and Honoring Nations research and resources about governmental best practices.

Categories feature Honoring Nations award winners, including Citizen Potawatomi Nation for its constitutional reform efforts, and highlight successful initiatives in child care, business, youth development, housing and land management.

“The Honoring Nations Google Earth Voyager story is an important initial phase of a larger initiative we are developing into an online suite of digital nation building teaching and learning tools,” HoChing said.

Founded in 1987, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development studies and fosters leadership, sovereignty, culture and forward-thinking tribal institutions. It’s housed at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Massachusetts.

“Part of our mission at Honoring Nations is to spread successful examples of tribal governance to provide resources and elevate the understanding of tribal government capabilities. The Google Earth platform has helped us amplify that message to a global community,” HoChing said.

The Google Cultural Institute YouTube channel supplements the Voyager experience with videos (including more on CPN’s Potawatomi Leadership Program), as do additional resources via the Honoring Nations website.

“In elevating these stories, we are shifting the narrative to what is working throughout Indian Country and supporting tribal sovereignty,” HoChing said. “The new Earth aims to tell powerful stories by giving users a new perspective on locations and encourage people to learn about the world through different lenses.”