Indigenous Knowledge and Geoscience on the Flathead Indian Reservation, Northwest Montana: Implications for Place-Based and Culturally Congruent Education

Adam N. Johnson, Regina Sievert, Michael Durglo, Vernon Finley, Louis Adams, Michael H. Hofmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

We investigated connections between the natural and the cultural history of the Flathead Indian Reservation through the integration of geoscience, traditional tribal knowledge, and oral narratives for the purpose of improving Earth Science education in the tribal community. The project served as an avenue for the incorporation of indigenous knowledge into science curricula by providing parallel perspectives for the same landscapes while considering compatibilities between Western science and Native knowledge. We developed educational resources through collaborations with local school communities, tribal elders, and cultural experts who approved the materials for general distribution. Participants identified multiple localities throughout the reservation that served as field sites critical to understanding geoscience concepts, tribal scientific knowledge, and oral histories. One such place (the Big Draw Valley west of Flathead Lake) figures prominently in both geoscience and indigenous accounts of the evolution of the land. Compatible perspectives of local landscape formation are indicated by similarities between the interconnected Earth Science and Native narratives. Indigenous knowledge reveals potential locations for additional scientific research that could prompt a reconsideration of current geoscience theories regarding the glacial history of the region. Preliminary research suggests that culturally congruent instruction using the Flathead Geoscience Education Project materials was effective in supporting increased American Indian student achievement in geosciences on the reservation. We believe that curricular materials similar to those produced during this project can also be developed for and successfully used in other tribal communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-202
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Volume62
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2014

Keywords

  • Big Draw Valley
  • Flathead
  • Flathead Lake
  • Glacial Lake Missoula
  • Glacial history
  • Glacial outwash
  • Indigenous
  • Kootenai
  • Montana
  • Moraines
  • Oral narratives
  • Pend d'Oreille
  • Rocky Mountains
  • Salish

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