Over the summer, NCSCE was awarded a grant by the W.M. Keck Foundation to to establish and advance robust partnerships between indigenous populations and local formal and informal educators to improve educational outcomes for all students, promote cultural understanding, and foster long-term collaborations on issues of common concern. Transcending Barriers to Success: Connecting Indigenous and Western Knowledge leverages NCSCE’s national community of transformation to support professional development for lasting institutional change and community partnerships. The project extends the successful Hawai’i SENCER State strategy to Alaska and four pilots.
Pilot projects were selected following a request for proposals and a competitive review of the many strong applications we received for a small number of subawards. The selected pilot projects will address health and environmental concerns, as well as the cultural context specific to each community. The pilots will include California State University Channel Islands and Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project, Humboldt State University + Karuk Tribe of California Department of Natural Resources, Northern Arizona University + Sustainable Nations Development Project, and Salish Kootenai College + Watershed Education Network.
This past weekend, Transcending Barriers to Success project leaders met in San Jose, CA, to learn about the plans of all partners, review community support and dissemination opportunities, and form a plan to move forward to reaching the goals of both the overall and individual projects. Meeting attendees included Lawrence Duffy, Project Co-PI; Deb Fassnacht, Watershed Education Network; Robert Franco, Project Co-PI; Ulla Hasager, Project Co-PI; Leaf Hillman, Karuk Tribe of California; Lisa Hillman, Karuk Tribe of California; Danielle Kraus Tarka, NCSCE staff; Jennie Luna, California State University Channel Islands; Denielle Perry, Northern Arizona University; Eliza Reilly, Project PI; Jonathon Richter, Salish Kootenai College; Amy Shachter, Advisory Board Chair; Kyle Simmons, NCSCE staff; Amy Sprowles, Humboldt State University; Vanessa Terán, Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project; and Holly Truitt, University of Montana. PennElys Droz of the Sustainable Nations Development Project, and Advisory Board members Cathy Middlecamp and Pamela Proulx-Curry joined the discussion via videoconference.
You can read more about the Transcending Barriers project here. Please continue reading to learn more about each subaward pilot project.
California State University Channel Islands + Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project
Jennie Luna, Assistant Professor, Chicana/o Studies, California State University Channel Islands
Vanessa Terán, Project Manager, Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project
The proposed project is established upon the premise that: The survival/survivance of Indigenous Peoples depends on the reproductive health and rights of both women and men. This project will develop and institutionalize a strong partnership on the issue of Reproductive Health and Justice between MICOP, a non-profit organization serving Mixteco/Indigenous communities of Ventura County and the local university serving the same region. The term “reproductive justice” suggests the profound linkages between the control and regulation of women’s fertility and reproductive health and the control and regulation of communities based on race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, immigration status, and citizenship. Reproductive justice relies on an intersectional framework and recognizes that reproductive oppression is not an individual concern but a structural issue. Hence, a goal for this project is to understand and analyze the systems of oppression that shape women’s access to reproductive health, particularly for Indigenous women of Ventura County. Our goal is to bring university students to work jointly with MICOP to conduct research, policy briefs, and community driven solutions to the disparities that exist for Indigenous women seeking reproductive health care. Some issues will include: sociolinguistic experiences within local communities/hospital settings, Indigenous birthing practices, health care access, and local organizing efforts. This course will engage with Service-Learning both on the campus and in the community as we actively engage in the creation of social change and a mutually transformative experience, equally beneficial to members of the class and members of the community.
Humboldt State University + Karuk Tribe of California Department of Natural Resources
Amy Sprowles, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, Humboldt State University
Lisa Hillman, Pikyav Field Institute Program Manager, Karuk Tribe of California Department of Natural Resources
Leaf Hillman, Director of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, Karuk Tribe of California Department of Natural Resources
The Transcending Barriers to Student Success Project will allow the Humboldt State University (HSU) faculty involved in the HSI STEM and HHMI initiatives to deepen their existing collaboration with the Karuk Tribe (Tribe) Department of Natural Resources and the Karuk Pikyav Field Institute. By supporting the Tribe’s efforts to increase tribal STEM field representation, we will also be helping our students increase their understanding of the relationship between western science, traditional knowledge and the cultural and social issues of particular importance to the Tribe. By the end of the project period, our three-pronged approach will achieve the development a Karuk cultural component to seven STEM courses in our place-based learning communities; identify components of Karuk traditional knowledge and/or culture to be implemented in at least one upper division STEM course; and develop STEM field learning opportunities for the Karuk Pikyav Field Institute’s participating Tribal Youth.
Northern Arizona University + Sustainable Nations Development Project
Denielle Perry, Assistant Professor, School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, Northern Arizona University
PennElys Droz, Ecological Designer/Builder, Sustainable Nations Development Project
To build a sustainable future, we must integrate Indigenous and Western Knowledge. We propose to integrate Indigenous building and ethnobotanical knowledge with permaculture methods, to design charrette sessions leading to the construction of a permanent sustainable building demonstration and teaching garden on the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Campus for healthy and resilient communities. These experiential learning exhibits will be incorporated into the curriculum of ENV 181, a freshman-level Environmental Sustainability course, and ENV 555, a graduate-level Environmental Sciences and Policy Interface course. This project will provide hands-on training to students, staff, and community partners in construction and gardening techniques. We will partner with tribal experts and the Sustainable Nations Development Project to leverage and integrate indigenous knowledge into sustainable design. This project directly addresses the focus of the Transcending Barriers to Success while simultaneously strengthening the existing indigenous partnerships and initiatives at NAU. This project will also foster new partnerships and strengthen existing ties between tribal community members and the university, and will lead to enhanced experiential learning at both the undergraduate and graduate level that emphasizes the complementary strengths of Indigenous and Western knowledge for sustainability science.
Salish Kootenai College + Watershed Education Network
Jonathon Richter, Lead Instructor and Dept Chair, Media Design, Film, & Television, Salish Kootenai College
Deb Fassnacht, Executive Director, Watershed Education Network
Holly Truitt, Founding Director, University of Montana Broader Impacts Group, University of Montana
Mike Durglo, Jr., Division of Environmental Protection Manager and Climate Change Planning Coordinator, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
Salish Kootenai College’s “Flathead Tech4Good”, an outreach and professional development center of the Media Design, Film, & TV dept at SKC has partnered with the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station and the Watershed Education Network with continued game design partners Native Teaching Aids to work with area 8-12th graders and college students to address the community challenge, “Water is Life…”. Through game jams, mentorships, field trips, workshops, and a summer camp for native kids, we will use art, technology, games, and design to collaborate on solving water-related community challenges this year. These explorations will inform a variety of course in Fish and Wildlife, Media Design, and Tribal Historic Preservation courses at the college.