By Ashley Hernandez, program associate for International Funders for Indigenous Peoples and Rose von Thater-Imai, co-founder and director of The Native American Academy
Indigenous philanthropy agrees that solutions to climate change should be underpinned by Indigenous knowledge, which means including Native Science. As the consequences of climate change grow in severity, Indigenous philanthropy is considering how to elevate these solutions. One step is to go to the fundamentals. This involves an earnest, respectful engagement with native science, which happens when there is an essential understanding of its tenets. Several IFIP partners are supporting a collaborative effort to develop The Sculpture Gardens of Native Science and Learning, a library of Indigenous knowledge dedicated to the study of Native science.
Climate change is not only a challenge to the western understanding of science; it also imposes on it an ethical and moral dimension because of its effects on mother earth, human communities and all of life. While western science limits knowledge to testable observations, Native Science recognizes an ethical and moral dimension as an integral part of its paradigm. The Indigenous worldview describes an animate universe, composed of energy waves that carry knowledge (also called “spirits”) where humans are equal to and in relationship with all forms of life. Using this perspective shifts the inquiry and broadens the thinking regarding climate change. Rather than seeing the human role as dominant, with humans responsible for engineering solutions to manage the earth, humans take their place as part of the natural world and draw on their relationship as equals to all the other forms of life to find solutions that offer sustainable ways of living aligned and in harmony with the natural order.
International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP), The Native American Academy (NAA) and the Cultural Conservancy (TCC) came together to introduce and build support for The Sculpture Gardens of Native Science and Learning
International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP), The Native American Academy (NAA) and the Cultural Conservancy (TCC) came together on Wed Oct 18th, 2017 to introduce and build support for The Sculpture Gardens of Native Science and Learning, a project that brings forward a key stepping-stone that offers humans, Native and non-Native the access and means to engage productively with Native Science. The garden does this by providing a physical space that functions as a living library of educational activities that follow Indigenous protocols, traditions and values for the gathering, protection and transmission of knowledge. The Garden brings about the learning process using multi-media sculpture, weavings, art works songs and ceremony to communicate ‘wahkohtowin’ “knowing how you are related to all creation”.
Funders who wish to support Indigenous solutions to climate change can forward their vision through supporting a productive, equitable, ethical relationship between Native and western science. An important step in this process is a better understanding of and broader engagement with Indigenous ways of knowing the world. The Sculpture Gardens of Native Science and Learning provides a fruitful space to continue this journey to knowledge.
To learn more about the Sculpture Gardens of Native Science and Learning, please visit their webpage here.