Indigenous Arts and Sciences Earth Partnership

For a relevant and enriching education, Native American children and all Wisconsin young people need to understand the contributions of Indigenous Arts and Sciences (IAS) and to interface and integrate them within western STEM knowledge within the framework of actively restoring native vegetation. Wisconsin’s Indian Nations monitor and protect their natural resources, underscoring the need for Native scientists, yet Native Americans are the most underrepresented group in STEM fields. Dr. Doug Medin writes, “What’s going on is a culture clash between orientation and worldview.” For instance, fourth grade students in the Menomonee Indian reservation score above average on standardized tests in science. By eighth grade these same students score below average. Current science education practice creates this disconnect.

IAS EPS intends to build capacity and “grow” the next generation of Native stewards so that Native youth find strength in their cultural heritage and become inspired to explore science careers. ”The real paradox of low levels of STEM engagement by Native students is that their cultures have both historically as well as in everyday practice relied on the same empirical methods conventionally employed in western science. Projects such as this one could revitalize Native intellectual traditions. This could go a long way in overcoming the stigma that ‘science isn’t cool,’ held by too many youth, Native and non-native.” (H. YoungBear Tibbetts, 2011).

“Indigenous Arts and Sciences is a phrase intended to convey the intellectual traditions of native nations at a highly generalized scale of description. Native intellectual traditions are of course, as diverse as are the discrete native nations that have devised and relied on those traditions to inform their lifeways, situate their stewardship, and continue to inform their worldview. While that diversity is apparent …there are some common themes that resonate throughout the intellectual paradigms of native nations, … a pattern of core values including relationships, reciprocity, respect, and responsibility…

The Indigenous Arts and Sciences Earth Partnership Goals include:
1. Integrate Indigenous Arts and Sciences (IAS) within the Arboretum’s Earth Partnership for Schools (EPS) ecological restoration education especially in Great Lakes watersheds and ecosystems.
2. Address the needs of K-16 educators to access culturally accurate and authentic resources across the curriculum.
3. Partner with tribal communities to broaden participation and generate enthusiasm among tribal youth and thus build capacity to meet future workforce needs in science and technology.

This will be a two-way exchange of information, and an opportunity to partner with the communities. The dialogue will draw on the Indigenous cyclical process of information sharing and integrate with the Leopold Land ethic and the history and practice of ecological restoration at the Arboretum.

“Indigenous Arts and Sciences [is] premised on understanding and acknowledging the inter-relationships of phenomena and events in a reciprocal and respectful way, honoring those relationships… While they are distinct from the more linear and chronological traditions of western science …this distinction does not mean that there are not intersections at which western sciences and indigenous arts and sciences can meet, collaborate, and interact with one another to their mutual benefit. Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of place-based teaching and learning, for it is in our joint tenancy of this Great Turtle Island that we can and must find both literal and figurative “common ground.” (H.YoungBear-Tibbetts)