Sharing the Land: Attracting Native American Students to the Geosciences

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Articles and Special Issues
Riggs, E. M., Robbins, E., & Darner, R. (2007). Sharing the Land: Attracting Native American Students to the Geosciences. Journal of Geoscience Education, 55(6), 478-485. DOI: 10.5408/1089-9995-55.6.478
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Native American reservation communities nationwide exercise sovereign control over natural resources and land-use within reservation boundaries. With the recent rapid economic growth of many of these communities, development pressures and infrastructure issues have become a foremost concern. Despite the clear need for geoscience professionals on reservations and the deep cultural connection many American Indian cultures have with the Earth, Native American students remain poorly represented in the earth sciences. The Indigenous Earth Sciences Project is an effort based at Purdue University designed to address this problem systemically by providing local, culturally-responsive avenues for success for college-bound American Indian students in the geosciences in partnership with regional universities. The Sharing the Land program is a partnership between Purdue and colleges and universities in the San Diego region, providing on-reservation education to environmental managers who often lack geoscientific expertise, and a portion of the Young Native Scholars residential summer college bridge program for area high school students. The program also reaches younger children through the Explorers Club outdoor education program. We have also constructed an internship program in tribal environmental offices for Native high school and college students. This far-reaching project provides the minimum level of support to create a truly integrated pathway for Native American students to gain geoscience degrees. Native-focused programs must have full community participation at all levels to succeed, and must provide authentic work experience to make the earth sciences relevant for students. Involvement of Native educators and elders is also critical to ensure cultural connection and continuity. This article outlines the entire STL program, strategies for replication elsewhere, and highlight research opportunities in cross-cultural science education.

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This page last updated 18 May 2019 - 11:00pm