Rachel’s Module 3 Weblog

Weblog #3

The Indigenous Environmental Network


The IEN was started in the United States when a group of grassroots Indigenous peoples began addressing environmental issues, as well as economic problems. The IEN works towards helping Indigenous communities to protect what is most important to them (eg. Their sacred sites, land, water, natural resources and the health of people and living things), and keep their communities sustainable. They provide support and resources to Indigenous communities and youth throughout North America, but anyone could access their resources on the web. Their website site provides links to media resources, news articles as well as videos about how indigenous peoples are protecting the earth and using their knowledge of ecology to protect and sustain habitats.


Project Overview: Why a Native American Science Curriculum?


The cultural heritage of most Native American and Alaska Native peoples incorporates considerable knowledge and experience of the natural world. Despite having these strong cultural traditions, the indigenous voice is rarely heard in the science curriculum. For example, Native Americans remain the most under‑represented minority in scientific disciplines overall, and in environmentally oriented sciences in particular. According to the research done here, there are currently less than twenty PhD level Native Americans in the natural and physical sciences in the United States and Canada. Native scientists would be able to bring new, fresh perspectives and insights to environmental science as well as resource management. This particular website has two PowerPoint presentations embedded, which can assist in the understanding of the importance of an indigenous perspective in the science curriculum.


Renee Gurneau – Foundations of Indigenous Thought (video)

This video was posted to YouTube on Apr 8, 2012 by ienearth, the YouTube channel for the Indigenous Environmental Network. Their YouTube channel has many videos which highlight the indigenous perspective on environmental issues. In this particular video Renee Gurneau highlights the importance of including the indigenous perspective when environmental issues are discussed. Renee, Previous President of the Red Lake Nation Tribal College, talks about Indigenous Knowledge and the importance of the reality of connections to Mother Earth. Indigenous science and Indigenous knowledge in the past has been discounted for generations – and the message in this video is that “now is the time to return to our original instructions”.


United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues


The UB Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council. They discuss indigenous issues with respect to such issues as economic and social development, culture, the environment and health. The permanent forum has recently posted about the effects of climate change on indigenous peoples. They state that “Indigenous peoples are among the first to face the direct consequences of climate change, due to their dependence upon, and close relationship, with the environment and its resources”. Climate change speeds up and makes worse difficulties that indigenous communities are already facing. For example, indigenous peoples in Africa’s Kalahari Desert have been forced to live near government drilled sources of water and depend more and more on the government’s support for their survival. This is directly related to rising temperatures. Other environmental problems, such as sand dunes expanding and increased wind speeds have caused a loss in vegetation and have had a negative impact on the traditional cattle and goat farming practices that would otherwise take place there. The forum provides many rich resources and case studies to consult in terms of traditional ecological knowledge and environmental concerns of indigenous peoples worldwide.


ANKN Resources: Culturally-Based Curriculum Resources


The curriculum resources included here have been selected to illustrate ways in which Indigenous and Western knowledge systems can be included in schools through a balanced, comprehensive curriculum framework that can be adapted to local school communities to suit their needs. The resources are intended to help teachers and students make the connection between the knowledge, skills and ways of knowing used to maintain a livelihood in the villages and on Native reserves, and the knowledge, skills and cultural standards for teaching and learning reflected in the school curriculum. They have a searchable database. Also, the two diagrams are useful. The first is the curriculum spiral chart with 12 different categories for lessons, such as cultural expression and applied technology. The next diagram is a representation of an iceberg with three different levels. The first is surface culture (eg. Fine arts and story telling), the middle layer of the iceberg is folk culture (eg. dancing, cooking, and games) and the deepest part of the water under the iceberg represents deep culture (eg. language, tools, genealogy). The diagram shows the different levels of culture which these lessons can delve into.


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