Attending the 2011 SACNAS Conference in San Jose, California, October 27-30th, before the beginning of Native American Heritage Month was just the eye-opening experience I needed to host the 11th edition of the Diversity in Science Carnival. November noted as Native American Heritage Month, and everyone is encouraged to learn about and celebrate the many cultures and contributions of native peoples of the Americas. Which got me thinking – in what ways do we acknowledge the contributions to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) that Native Americans make?
For me, especially, I came to realize there is already an amazing body of knowledge and contributions made by native peoples. However, thanks to the western tradition of education – that emphasizes formal classroom, emotionally-detached experiences with nature – I failed to comprehend these subtle lessons about ecology, conservation, even chemistry. I was extremely grateful for my awakening which I recap in Traditional Ecological Knowledge offers lessons about science too long overlooked. Kim Tallbear, Kim Tallbear: Indigeneity and Technoscience, really brings this message home in SACNAS: Beyond “Diversity and Inclusion,” Making Science More Multicultural and Democratic. But the truth is Kim Tallbear, herself, is worth including in this carnival. A decedent of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, studies the ways in which genetic science is co-constituted with notions of race and indigeneity and ongoing roles of science and technology (technoscience) in the colonization of indigenous peoples and others.
My invitation to participate in SACNAS and the enlightening I’ve gained were no accident, and long ago I decided there was no such thing as coincidence. On my return flight from San Jose, I was seated next to Dr. Leslie Caromile, a Post-doctoral Fellow at The Center for Vascular Biology at the University of Connecticut Health Center. She and I were sharing stories of being one of few (or no other) faces of color in our college and graduate school science classes and growing up in the hood being protected by the tougher kids in the community because of our ‘nerd statuses’, and how important outreach and mentoring the next generation of science scholars from our respective communities is to us. I told her about this carnival and she share this most special account of how her Native identity inspires her scientific career. I have to Building Confidence Through Building Community is my favorite post in this entire series.
SACNAS is where I originally met Dr. Andrea Stith (PhD for Life). She shares photos of her visit to Cahokia Mounds and introduces her readers to Woodhenge and the complex Agricultural traditions of this rather large urban settlement of Pre-Columbian Americans just outside of St. Louis, Missouri in Cahokia Ho!
I also learned about the first Native American Astronaut, Commander John Herrington, the first tribally-enrolled Native American Indian Astronaut to fly in outer space: First Native American Indian Astronaut to fly in outer space John Herrington.
And Daniela Hernandez interviewed her journalism mentor, Audubon Society volunteer, and all-around awesome person in Profiles of Native Science – Dennis Taylor: Science Enthusiast, Citizen Scientist, & Journalist.
Finally, one of the goals I set in hosting this month’s carnival was to introduce more Native Science Bloggers and Online Science Journalists. In addition to Mother Earth Journal and Cynthia Coleman’s Blog (which I introduced in the announcement of the November carnival, I am glad to welcome The University of Washington SACNAS chapter to the Blogging While Brown and Science Blogging cyber communities. This student blog will highlight the service and work of these undergraduate and graduate students. In their first full blog post, November is Native American Heritage Month, they give a complete breakdown of Native American STEM education attainment at their university, the state of Washington, and in the United States. The post also includes introductions and profiles of Native American scientists and member of the SACNAS Chapter. So be sure to drop by and leave them encouraging welcoming comments.
If you know of other blogs written by Native Americans (about any subject), then please leave a comment and share with us all.
Hope you enjoy the carnival!