I am here as both a Native and an environmental scientist.
Every day, I help my students make connections between their cultural understanding of the environment and what they are learning in traditional science classes. I want them to become leaders so that all of humanity can benefit from their ability to draw upon the power of culture and science to understand our environment and keep it healthy.
As a Native scientist, I use more than a millennia of environmental observations by my people to understand how the four elements—earth, air, fire, and water—interact so that I can bring harmony to nature. As an environmental scientist, I draw on a wide range of scientific disciplines to understand the environment and the many interactions that take place on a physical, chemical, and biological level.
I believe that the knowledge of balancing the needs of people with the needs of our natural surroundings is paramount in Tribal societies. After my undergraduate degree I worked on issues of alcoholism. During this time I noticed that the health of the people was directly related to the health of the environment they were living in. At the University of South Dakota I earned a doctoral degree in environmental science and educational administration because I wanted to manifest my realization that science education must connect the environment and culture.
Today, I work as the director of the Indian Natural Resource Science and Engineering Program (INRSEP) at Humboldt State University in California. The program supports North American indigenous students pursuing higher education degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). My role includes academic and cultural counseling and mentoring INRSEP students as they integrate the working knowledge of Indian communities with Western science. Our purpose is to ensure a culturally strong Native scientific workforce to meet the challenges and opportunities of our nation’s future.
Indian Natural Resource Science and Engineering Program (INRSEP)
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