But how to change it? Schools need to, as Galindo tells Indian Country Today’s Tanya Lee, here, “build a different paradigm of educating Native scholars.”
His approach is three-pronged: More faculty with advanced degrees at the 36 tribal colleges. More role models in science fields for Native students. And more research related to tribes:
The result is what Galindo, a Yaqui Indian with strong ties to the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, calls it the ISTEM (Indigenous Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education program….
ISTEM is not a stand-alone program. “It’s a process of respect, understanding, a holistic curriculum where science degree candidates sit in on classes on tribal sovereignty, health, leadership and law. Many of these scholars will go back to their communities. They will be more valuable to their communities that way than if they were highly specialized in just one area,” Galindo said.
So far, the Idaho program has two participants, former astronaut John Herrington, who is Chickasaw, and Frank Finley, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and a science teacher at Salish Kootenai College in Montana.
As Finley tells Lee, “Eurocentric scientific training is an entirely linear strategy. A researcher will go out and study an animal for three or four months in the summer, and then write his master’s thesis. Natives don’t do that. A hunter will follow an animal all year round. It takes half a lifetime to understand the life cycle of an elk, say. You can’t learn enough in three months to say you know anything.”
Meanwhile, Glaindo is looking for funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA and National Institutes of Health, and hopes eventually to enroll 20 students in his program.
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