Indigenous Science & Technology

Native Science is a study of the whole; Indigenous technologies emerge from the implicate order to reflect the art of skillful living – and these bodies of knowledge employ the precision and rigour associated with western science.

Rose Thater Braan-Imai

Sunset view of the North Fork Owyhee Wild & Scenic River at its confluence with the Middle Fork Owyhee River east of Three Forks Recreation Site, June 7, 2017, by Greg Shine, BLM | Indigenous Technology | Watershed Sentinel

Sunset view of the North Fork Owyhee Wild & Scenic River at its confluence with the Middle Fork Owyhee River | Photo: Greg Shine, BLM.

The Native American Academy was founded by a group of Native scholars and Traditional Knowledge Holders dedicated to increasing respect for and understanding of the Indigenous worldview and to broadening the contemporary concepts of science and learning. Since its inception, it has grown into a network of Native and non-Native people using research, dialogue, writing, and action projects focused on making Indigenous knowledge visible to the Western-trained mind.

The Academy in collaboration with The Cultural Conservancy is creating a series of Sculpture Gardens of Native Science and Learning, the first one will be in the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California. Envisioned as emblematic libraries, these Gardens will use an inter-tribal collective art project to communicate Native Science: in Cree, wahkohtowin, “knowing how you are related to all creation.”

There is a commonly held assumption that western science is supra-cultural.
Actually science emerges from culture.


Native Science is a term that defines
an adaptive, living knowledge.
It is a study of the whole and
includes spiritual, ethical and social dimensions.
Native science is specific to place and
brings forth its knowledge of
an evolving ecology in a process that sustains and
deepens relevancy over time.


These bodies of knowledge
held by the Indigenous peoples of the Earth
share many of the same principles
and also employ the precision and rigor
associated with western science.
The difference between these two methods of knowing the world
rests in the ways in which the world is perceived.


There is a quality of consciousness
that is brought to bear in the gathering of knowledge by Native peoples.
It is an awareness and a lived experience
of a relational universe where time and space are bound,
and where time is nonlinear and described
as movement within a flux of layers of
flashing webs that appear and disappear
in an infinity of patterns.
It is those patterns and the harmony of their interconnectedness
that guides the search for knowledge.


It is the dedicated study of relationships
that guides the creation of Indigenous technologies
and which provides a context to describe their characteristics.


What are the characteristics
that are distinct to Indigenous technology?


First Indigenous technologies are recognized as animate,
imbued with the breath of life, they live in form and function
having emerged from the realms of the invisible.


Indigenous technologies emerge from the implicate order
to reflect the art of skillful living. Indigenous technology
is pragmatic. It is responsive and responsible to the ecology
in which it lives.


Indigenous technologies attract the learning spirit(s)
they provide a learning ecology that supports the revitalization
and transformation of awareness and knowledge.


Indigenous technology is intended to enhance the ability
to maintain and renew balance and harmony
within a multi-dimensional environment.


Indigenous technology is created within a
sensory environment that builds on our sense of
relationship, meaning, balance, feeling, memory and
place as well as sight, sound, smell,
taste and touch.


Through meaningful interactions Indigenous technology seeks
to engage and evoke significant knowledge and experiences reflective of
the Indigenous world.


Indigenous technologies have the obligation to
come into existence, to be used and to transform
within an ethical space that is responsible
to life in all its forms.


The ability or capacity to make something does not constitute
a valid reason for its existence.
Indigenous technology is coherent with the
natural order.


Indigenous technology has
a different life trajectory than a fax machine.
The Pukea (A carved Polynesian trumpet) will not find itself in a landfill replaced with
something sleeker and faster. It’s efficacy
has not diminished over thousands of years of use. The Pukea
is an authentic example of technological design coherent with
the natural order.


Indigenous technologies have intrinsic value
because we know their ancestry
where they came from, what their place is in our world.
We know they will transform and pass from this place to
return to the realms of energies.


Rose Thater Braan-Imai (Tuscarora):
After a lifetime in the arts became the director
of Education at The Center for Particle Astrophysics at U.C. Berkeley.
for 11 years, she led collaborative efforts
to cultivate a scientific culture that values diverse worldviews and ways of knowing.
She is a visual artist, a writer, a Mother, wife and grandmother.
She is the director and a co-Founder of The Native American Academy.
These writings emerged from ceremonial
dialogues convened by the Academy over the last 20 years.

Watershed Sentinel Original Content

Can we ask for a little of your time, and some money?

We can’t do this without you. Support independent media and donate a little or a lot – every bit makes a difference. And when you give those precious extra dollars, we treat them as the honour it is and use them carefully to pay for more stories, more distribution of information, and bonus copies to colleges and libraries. Donate $50 or more, and we will publicly thank you in our magazine. And we always thank you from the bottom of our hearts.