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1 Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 2 Department of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt, North Dakota, USA. 3 Division of Biomedical Informatics and Personalized Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado, USA. 4 Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado, USA. *Correspondence to: Krystal S. Tsosie, e-mail: krystal.s.tsosie@gmail.com. KEY WORDS: native american, american indian, pacific islander, indigenous science, traditional ecological knowledge, indigenous knowledge, epistemologies, community-based participatory research, community engagement, research framework, gene drive, stem education. Human Biology, Summer 2019, v. 91, no. 3. doi: 10.13110/humanbiology.91.3.02. Copyright © 2020 Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan 48201 introduction Indigenizing Science and Reasserting Indigeneity in Research Krystal S. Tsosie1,2 * and Katrina G. Claw3,4 Science,atitscore,isknowledgesystematically gained through repeated observations about the world around us. Indigenous people have always been scientists. As agronomists, Indigenous people of pre-Colombian Mexico domesticated maize over 9,000 years ago (Matsuoka et al. 2002). As astronomers, Polynesians studied constellations and movements of celestial bodies to become skilled sailors and navigators (Lewis 1972). In almost every scientifijic discipline throughout history, Indigenous people have contributed to our physical and biological understanding and have developed technologies that benefijit all. Imagine, then, how science today could be advanced if we empowered Indigenous approaches to the level of Western science. Indigenous people have multiple ways of knowing and varied traditional knowledge systems that are distinct from Western perspectives. These epistemologies are embedded in oral traditions , ceremonial practices, beliefs, and general knowledge from our ancestors. Thus, Indigenous science is the process by which Indigenous people construct and disseminate empirical knowledge of their environment. As approaches to gathering knowledge, Indigenous science may arise independently of Western science, but the two are not antithetical. Yet Indigenous science is often overshadowed and minimized by Western science. The latter is often seen by the dominant society as being more “objective,” whereas its counterpart might beviewedasanecdotal,imprecise,andvaluedonly by its interoperability with Western perspectives. This veneration of Western science has the efffect of undermining the embodied and relational ways of knowing developed over countless generations, passed down by elders to the next generation, and rooted in centuries of observational and experiential learning. Indigenous science is grounded in traditional knowledge, but it is perhaps the word “traditional” that seems to cause consternation and derision among non-Indigenous academics.The word itself is often used antonymously with “modern” and therefore implies that such concepts are of the past and incompatible with the contemporary world (Pierotti 2012). Perhaps we should instead think of “traditional knowledge” as knowledge that endures, or has been repeatedly tested and remained substantiated, as data points representing countless trials over time. Maybe scientists should reevaluate their perceptions of the word “traditional” and instead acknowledge and listen to expertise in Indigenous science. Hence, many biologists and conservationists are looking to traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), or Indigenous knowledge (IK) gained 000 ■ Tsosie and Claw through interacting with the environment, to provide solutions to climate change, deforestation, species extinction, and ecosystem degradation— problems arguably implicated by an overreliance on Western science. For instance, researchers were able to improve their population estimates of bowhead whales in Arctic Alaska by incorporating Iñupiat knowledge of whale behavior (Albert 2001; Popp 2018). Furthermore, elders from the Heiltsuk First Nation in British Columbia long recognized diffferences between coastal and inland gray wolves in their territory, which informed later genetic investigations comparing the two species (Stronen et al. 2014). As stewards of lands that encompass22%of Earth’ssurface,includingmuch of its biodiversity (Sobrevila 2008), Indigenous people, and IK approaches, are perhaps now more importantfortheplanet’ssustainabilityandfuture. LookingtoIndigenoussciencetofijindsolutions tosystemicissueswithoutconcernforthehealthof Indigenous knowledge keepers, however, is extractive . Indigenous people in the United States sufffer worse health outcomes and signifijicant barriers to health compared to non-Hispanic whites (JacobsWingo et al. 2016), and these health disparities may be further exacerbated as precision medicine moves forward (Martin et al. 2019) without proper attention to structural barriers to health that overburden these communities (Tsosie et al. 2019). Despite some attention over the years to explore themes of discrimination, racism, historical trauma, and cultural...

Keywords

Native American, American Indian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous Science, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Indigenous Knowledge, Epistemologies, Community-Based Participatory Research, Community Engagement, Research Framework, Gene Drive, Stem Education

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-6617
Print ISSN
0018-7143
Launched on MUSE
2020-04-21
Open Access
No
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