MOSCOW, Idaho — The University of Idaho is partnering with tribal nations to integrate Indigenous knowledge into STEM curriculum. Dozens of K-12 teachers will work directly with tribal leadership and U of I researchers to integrate Indigenous knowledge and practice.
The program called Cultivating Relationships, will be built in collaboration with tribal nations. A new $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation is helping researchers test the model in four different regions across the West and tribal nations beginning in the summer of 2023.
The University of Idaho is hoping the program will support more Indigenous youth to view STEM fields as a place where their knowledge and experience is vital for global wellbeing.
According to the University of Idaho, past research has shown STEM lessons ignore Indigenous principles that shaped thousands of years worth of sustainable land management practices. The new partnership seeks to bridge the disconnect in American classrooms.
“Teachers rarely come into K-12 classrooms with an understanding of Indigenous peoples, their nations or a sense of how important their relationship to the land is,” said Vanessa Anthony-Stevens, a U of I associate professor who leads the interdisciplinary project team.
64 teachers, ranging from grades K-12 from three regional Native American tribes — Nez Perce, Coeur d'Alene and Shoshone-Bannock, and one Arizona tribe, San Carlos Apache, will enroll in a 15-credit teacher certification.
These teachers will be immersed in learning of Indigenous approaches to scientific fields and land management, working with U of I faculty to create new STEM teaching lessons.
“As tribal nations, we ultimately want to ensure our nations’ youth can access our ancestral-community knowledge and STEM training in supportive and innovative ways," said Sammy Matsaw, Shoshone-Bannock Fisheries research biologist and co-director of River Newe [link.mediaoutreach.meltwater.com].
Results of the project will be shared with tribal education leaders, community members and researchers.