Thoughts on blending traditional knowledge and mainstream math and science academics and careers

  • To get a peer reviewed paper out you have to throw away the interesting things
  • We don’t have a way to communicate our knowledge. There is no venue for that
  • It is hard to quantify traditional knowledge and put into Western terms
  • Lack of respect for traditional knowledge:  i.e., depression study – asked elders cause of their depression – they said “No Moose” – moose repopulation program started – decrease in depression rates – but this wasn’t allowed as a dissertation topic
  • A body of science literature is not necessary – does it work or not? (they spent $100,000’s to figure out wild rice fluctuates. Any old man can tell you that.)
  • Western science doesn’t respect our own ability to observe
  • International Global Climate Change only accepts data from peer reviewed journal articles – they don’t accept Native knowledge
  • I am working with a local tribe and would like to talk to them about traditional names for landmarks which have not been named on official maps on BLM lands. The tribe seems open to it, but my advisor says the only thing that is important is the science. Yet he is able to write on his grant that he is working with a Native student and with a local tribe.
  • I work with Leech Lake tribal archaeology. I found wild rice in pots that was able to be dated. It is 3000 years old.

o   I don’t think science and traditional knowledge are enemies. Most scientists I work with are interested in traditional knowledge.

  • Science is a good partner. If we have a future, it is there in the past.
  • There are published accounts where Native Knowledge is discounted until published in a Western journal. We (academics) will grab a paper off the internet and cite the person as being an expert, but won’t count the Native American who has been there and made the observation.
  • There is an assumption that math and science didn’t exist before the White man came. They haven’t changed that opinion, we know better.
  • In the past Western Science was “done to” Natives. That is where the resistance comes from.
    • Who is driving the science?
    • In participatory programs, where is the benefit to the people?
    • There are negative and positive aspects. 9.9 out of 10 times nothing ever comes back from the study.
    • How do you establish a value you can quantify?
  • Education is a problem for scientists. There are differences in approach.
  • In Western Science a hot topic is biomimicry — maybe other species have solved this problem. Emulation has been going on in Native Science for ages.
    • People who came up with the kayaks did it some way.
  • In our academic world how do we come to some way of recognizing these results that don’t fit the scientific method? How do you make that mesh?
  • How was your response in naming the landforms?
    • Give a presentation to the elders. And schoolchildren.
  • We must work together for the benefit of the land.
  • Ecologists are very much interested in this.
  • The way I was taught was by living it every day.
  • Most archaeologists prefer to work with places that have established protocols.
    • Wild rice was established by both Euro-Americans and Native Americans and has been used here for a long time. What can we do to promote its use again?
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