For Us, By Us: Indigenous Land-based Science Learning
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Indigenous students and families who are learning ‘science’ or ‘STEM’ in settler societies (e.g. the United States and Canada) are forced to engage in formal and informal science learning settings that are predominantly founded upon a settler, Western science that not only positions its science as “real” or “The” science, but also positions Indigenous students’ epistemologies and ontologies as not “real knowing” or relevant to “real science.” This erasure paradigm in science learning settings is a reflection of the large settler-colonial system that seeks to erase and supplant Indigeneity. This must shift if Indigenous student STEM trajectories are to not only improve, but also improve in ways that are accountable to and grounded in their Indigenous value systems, original relations and collective continuances. To build towards this, the current work re-frames and Indigenizes a prominent western human learning theory, i.e. Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE), to develop an Indigenous theory/story to LIFE, referred to as I-LIFE. Given I-LIFE is a theory/story about Indigenous life-long, life-deep, and life–wide learning, it is responsible for being put into Indigenous practice, i.e. lived directly in land and relations to be made fully meaningful. Thus, the second section of the current work outlines how I-LIFE unfolded in the form of Indigenous Land-based Science Learning (ILBSL) directly in/with the Cheyenne territory, by Cheyenne people and according to Cheyenne ontology, epistemology, axiology and collective continuance. To achieve this, ILBSL apprenticed and socialized Native students as good ancestors/bio-cultural restoration scientists to story, practice, adapt and synthesize Western science with/according to Cheyenne Science and values (including Sweet Medicine’s Adaptation Theory) through an ‘unceded time’ paradigm. This reciprocal relationing of story and practice, i.e. I-LIFE and ILBSL, respectively, is a promising strategy in increasing Native student learning, retention and trajectories in STEM by Indigenous peoples (i.e. according to Indigenous ontologies and axiologies), for Indigenous peoples (i.e. collective continuance). Together, I-LIFE and ILBSL achieved a pivotal Indigenous learning paradigm that is essential to the resurgence and reclaiming of Indigenous peoples’ sovereign knowledges, ontologies, axiologies and collective continuances. Thus, the current work has implications for other Indigenous communities seeking to reclaim their children’s learning through ILBSL so as continue their trajectories towards just and viable Indigenous futurities on Indigenous peoples’ terms.
- Education - Seattle