Final Post: Reflection on Connection to Research Topic

When I started out this research project, I searched long and hard for academic articles relating traditional ecological knowledge to the science curriculum. What I ended up finding was actually more hands-on materials to use in the classroom instead of only theoretical articles. I found full units online that can be used to integrate TEK into the science curriculum and that there are other nations who have been working on adding an indigenous perspective to the science curriculum already which could serve as good models to follow. Also, there are many articles out there about teaching strategies for teaching science to Indigenous students and being culturally sensitive to the fact that the Western scientific perspective is only one way of looking at science. My research focus shifted from finding a theoretical knowledge base of ideas to work with in implementing TEK into the curriculum to finding more of a “teaching tool kit” of materials, activities, units and strategies that can be used in the classroom.

December 3, 2012   No Comments

Weblog #4

Nearing the end of my research on integrating traditional ecological knowledge into the science curriculum, it became apparent that making connections with elders and sharing knowledge is pivotal in using TEK in the classroom. The following websites could help elders connect with students in a way that TEK can be passed down from generation to generation to all Canadian students.

International Workgroup for Indigenous Affairs
After discussing the influence of the media on indigenous communities, this website was pointed out to me. In further investigation, there is a section of environment and development that has vital information pertaining to land rights, poverty, climate change and sustainable development. There are news articles, written publications and important messages regarding environmental issues relevant to the Indigenous community. There is a news feed and many related links as well.

Indian Country Today Media Network
This media network serves to share information, news and events amongst members of the Native community online. They also advertise Pow Wows, gatherings, Sacred Sites and other events. They have news sections on the environment, education and a subsection for Canadian events only. A network like this in Canada could help students connect with elders who could share vital information about TEK and how to be a true steward of the Earth and show respect towards all living things around you.

The Vancouver Native Housing Society: Youth and Elder Connections
While the VNHS serves to provide housing as its main goal, they also have programs which enrich the lives of residences through cultural events and celebrations of heritage, arts and traditions. One of their programs is the Youth and Elder Connections “Bridging the Generations” program. In this community-based project, youth and elders are brought together through social and recreational activities, health- related workshops and mentorship. The program’s aim is to bridge the generational divide in a fun and educational way that helps to promote respect for self and others as well as Aboriginal cultures and traditions. These connections between youth and elders could involve the sharing of TEK, if specific activities were designed for this.

Peace for Turtle Island
Peace for Turtle Island provides culturally sensitive and accurate information about the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee – People of the Longhouse). They offer essays on many issues facing First Nations peoples, including the environment. Their page on cultural sensitivity is of interest because it speaks about how the internet may be spreading false information about the Iroquois peoples and their traditions. The author of the website designed this site as a way to educate others about the Iroquois from a first-person perspective. Their page on language, music and the arts is also very interesting and informative as well.

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick: Acadian Forest
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick published an article of traditional ecological knowledge. It explains in brief what TEK is all about and how it is an essential tool to be used in safeguarding the Acadian forest. They address the talking circle that took place on February 26, 2009, where the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, the Schoodic Band of the Passamaquoddy Nation of St. Andrew’s, the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Coalition on Sustainability and the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership (BoFep) hosted a talking circle on conservation and cooperation at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The outcome of this talking circle was that awareness was made about the concerns the indigenous peoples have in terms of conservation.
The second part of the project was to hold conversations with traditional forest knowledge keepers in parts of New Brunswick. The goal of each interview was to identify the challenges to the health of the Acadian forest and its species; how TEK could be used to ensure a healthy forest for future generations, and how traditional ecological knowledge can be protected.

December 3, 2012   No Comments

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.

November 6, 2012   No Comments

Adding an Indigenous Perspective to the Science Curriculum

The overarching theme of my weblog additions, as well as my research proposal for the final paper is Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and how this type of knowledge can be used in today’s contemporary classrooms (specifically in science classes). This research focus would be on the methods of collecting research for use in science classrooms that has an indigenous perspective. In many science classrooms, teachers mainly stick to the traditional scientific method that they were taught in school. I would like to challenge other teachers to seek out resources that include the indigenous perspective specifically when it comes to the study of ecology in science classrooms.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge is part of an indigenous tribal decision making process. The use of educational technology and Geographic Information System (GIS) technology is important for students in that the student can use this technology as a guide and to help them store data and information while they are learning. TEK and GIS can be used in resource management decisions.

In conclusion, the study of ecology is like a journey through some of the most interesting and amazing creations that are on this Earth. It is the study of how systems of biology are all connected and rely on one another. TEK is a way of adding an indigenous perspective in the science classroom by examining ecology through a different lens than what modern science has to offer.

Some texts and sources of information that would be of importance to this research include:

The Aboriginal Mapping unit

The Arctic Studies Centre

Tukilil: A Window to the Great North

Parlee, B. L., K. Geertsema, and A. Willier. 2012. Social-ecological thresholds in a changing boreal landscape: insights from                 Cree knowledge of the Lesser Slave Lake region of Alberta, Canada. Ecology and Society 17(2): 20.

October 8, 2012   No Comments

Module 1 Links: We Do Have Something to Offer With Respect to the Curriculum

For module one, I focused on Lee Brown’s discussions about the Indigenous healing process and how emotional awareness should be included in ever school lesson along with cognitive development. These are the links I found to be of importance to me as I completed module one:

I came across this website as I was researching the Tribes Community Course for teachers. It is a course that touches on aspects of Indigenous theories of knowledge and suggests that oral communication or oral story telling plays an important role in the classroom. In this course, teachers are also taught that dividing the class of students up in small groups called Tribes will help to make the classroom environment more conducive to learning. The website contains videos of how the Tribes classroom would look like if the theory is applied in the classroom effectively. There are also samples of lesson plans that would accompany any tribes program which are useful for helping to add an Indigenous perspective in the classroom.

The Tribes philosophy is all about:

  • Feeling included and appreciated
  • Showing respect for all people
  • Having students be engaged and involved in their own learning
  • Having a positive attitude towards learning and an outcome of success for all students

I was shocked to hear the statistics of the dropout rates of students in Saskatchewan. They can reach as high at 95%, and this would result in a whole generation of students missing out on a formal education. This blog and news article speak about First Nations and Mètis youth as many of these youths from across Saskatchewan came to Saskatoon for the three-day FSIN Youth Assembly. In Lee Brown’s discuss, he ended on a positive note, stating that “we have much to offer”. These types of assemblies for youth are a way to engage youths in a positive dialogue about the issues that matter the most to them. It is also a way of providing hope for youths who may be struggling by not just creating a long list of problems but also discussing solutions to these problems that are possible.

This inspiration video and song/composition was put on YouTube by Leland & Lorie Bell to support the awareness of Attawapiskat. I have a personal connection toAttawapiskat, as a friend from teacher’s college is now teaching there. He has been updating a blog and posting pictures of his classroom activities, as well as community activities. There has been a lot of news coverage around Attwapiskat of late, as MP Charlie Angus has been heavily involved in efforts to seek aid for the peoples of Attawapiskat so that they can obtain adequate shelter and homes. Many people across Canada, and abroad have been showing their support for the people who live in Attawapiskat. This relates to Lee Brown’s commentary in that the integration of healing as well as emotional awareness should be present in those schools in Attawapiskat. The 400 years of anger and fear felt because of colonization, as well as the reintroduction of those thoughts and feelings as a result of the Government of Canada’s efforts in making apologetic notions through a ceremony for reconciliation, are the same types of emotions felt by children going to school in Attawapiskat as well. Their schools have been relocated due to pollution and unsafe living conditions. Their new school is a system of portables, which can be broken into easily. The community has been engaged in efforts to raise funds for new schools, and one student took it upon herself to raise global awareness for her passion towards obtaining a new school in Attawapiskat as well.

Again, relating to the idea that Indigenous peoples in Canada have much to offer not just their own communities, but the country as well as on a global scale, this article was put forth by the Government of Ontario to recognize the efforts of six aboriginal youth who have won Bartleman Awards. These awards recognize the creating writing talents of these people, and show that the tradition of storytelling is alive and well in communities in Canada and that we are grateful for the talents of these passionate and creative youths.

This link is important in that it gives a depiction of an indigenous medicine wheel. Personally, when I first saw this medicine wheel I did not understand it. Upon reading the article I was enlightened by the knowledge that this medicine wheel contains. I began to realize that healing centres are an important aspect to indigenous cultures in that they are a healthy alternative to more modern forms of medicine. For example, a healing centre in British Columbia helped to heal 9000 people over a period of about 30-35 years. It is a holistic way of thinking about medicine, in that addictions are related to emotions that have not been expressed and communicating with the person seeking healing is very important to the process of healing.


October 8, 2012   No Comments