Lessons in Learning: The Cultural Divide in Science Education for Aboriginal Learners (M4, #3)


“The First Nations people view themselves not as custodians, stewards or having dominion over the Earth, but as an integrated part in the family of the Earth. The Earth is my mother and the animals, plants and minerals are my brothers and sisters.”

– F. Henry Lickers
Biologist, member of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nation

There needs to be more Canadian Aboriginal people in science and engineering occupations. However, attracting them to such positions is a challenge due in part to the contradictions between the values and philosophy of Western science and those of Aboriginal people and communities.

No wonder Aboriginal youth would find mainstream science classes confusing, being that their beliefs and ways of learning are so different from those of their Western classmates. Aboriginal values need to be validated and incorporated in order to increase their participation and engagement. Information on this website provides many suggestions of ways this can be accomplished.

There are some interesting examples of how traditional knowledge has been combined with Western science to produce mutually beneficial results. Hopefully more of these partnerships can occur in the future.

November 28, 2009   No Comments

Society for Ecological Restoration International: Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network (M4, #2)


This is another site that fits nicely with our Module 4 focus on Ecological Issues in Indigenous Education and Technology. Dennis Martinez, chair of the IPRN, discusses the rising interest in Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). He suggests that TEK offers a complementary approach to Western Science in the quest to understand our natural world. He notes that Indigenous societies were the first to notice the effects of climate change, and that they have a wealth of environmental information base on the observations of countless generations.

Martinez goes on to discuss how TEK is being threatened by globalization, which has often resulted in Indigenous groups losing control over their ancestral lands and resources. He stresses the need to restore and repair the relationship between nature and humans.

There is a wealth of additional information on this website, organized through numerous links on the left side of the homepage. Well worth a look – so much to learn and consider here!

November 28, 2009   No Comments

Indigenous Education Institute (M4, #1)


This Indigenous Education Institute (IEI) was created as a non-profit venture “with a mission to preserve, protect and apply traditional Indigenous knowledge in a contemporary setting, that of Indigenous peoples today, around the world”. Representatives from IEI have traveled around the world giving presentations to Indigenous organizations and institutions, as well as mainstream universities and K-12 schools.

Although IEI is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the administrators and board members represent various Indigenous groups. IEI is doing some important work in examing Native and Western Science in order to share awareness of Indigenous research methods and evaluation with the Western World. I was happy to learn that a priority of IEI is to assist Indigenous youth in building positive self-esteem and a strong sense of identity based on traditional cultural knowledge.  Overall, this is an informative and well-organized website!

November 28, 2009   No Comments

Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights (M3, #2)


This is an informative and relevant website from the publications List of the Canadian Library of Parliament (prepared by Tonina Simeone). Information is organized under the following sub-headings:

  • Introducation
  • How Does Indigenous Traditional Knowledge Differ from Western Science?
  • Why Protect Traditional Knowledge?
  • How to Protect Traditional Knowledge
  • Limitations of the Intellectual Property Rights Regime in Protecting Traditional Knowledge
  • International Initiatives to Protect Traditional Knowledge
  • Selected References
  • Endnotes

I like how the content of this website is concise and well-researched. It helped me to better understand how traditional knowledge has been exploited, and how awareness of this injustice has recently led to improvements, such as the development of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC).

November 9, 2009   No Comments

Indigenous Education Institute

whatwedo_left_01The mission of the Indigenous Education Institute (IEI) is to preserve, protect and use Indigenous knowledge in current settings.  They have developed projects to preserve  Indigenous knowledge and protocol to protect it.  It is governed by a board of directors, International Advisory Council, and an IEI Elders’ circle.

Current projects include:

  • Cosmic Serpent, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded professional development project developed to increase the capacity of museum practitioners to bridge native and western science learning in informal education settings.
  • Sharing The Skies: Navajo Astronomy, A Cross Cultural View.Also available are the CD Stars Over Dine Bikeyah, and the poster Dine (Navajo) Universe and original and giclee paintings of Navajo constellations
  • Paradox and Transformation is published in a peer reviewed journal, the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium, Volume 2, 2006, by
    Dr. Nancy C. Maryboy, Dr. David Begay and Mr. Lee Nichol.

The site provides links to:

Aboriginal Education Research Centre

Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre

The Cosmic Serpent [Online Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2009, from Indigenous Education Institute website.  http://www.indigenouseducation.org/index.html

October 24, 2009   No Comments