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Bridging Indigenous and Traditional Scientific Approaches:
Illustrations for two Projects

Susan D. Hernandez,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Office of Radiation and Indoor Air,; Mary E. Clark, U.S. EPA, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air,; Mansel Nelson, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, Northern Arizona University,

This paper presents two projects that bridge the span between indigenous and Western approaches to waste management issues that specifically affect native peoples.

One project, the Uranium and Radiation Education Outreach (UREO) addresses the legacy of abandoned uranium mines in the Navajo Nation. This is a joint effort between the U.S. EPA, the Environmental Education Outreach Program (EEOP) at Northern Arizona University and the Uranium Education Project (UEP) at Dine College. Through teacher workshops and curriculum development the project will give teachers of K-12 Navajo students the tools to adopt a classroom program allowing students to question, explore, and research the relevance and impact of uranium mining in their communities. This project will also adopt the Native Education Philosophy that encourages the study of issues relevant to the native community that reflect the interconnectedness of all things, and incorporate native language and culture.

The second project, the Traditional Knowledge and Radionuclides Project, is designed to help Alaska Native communities identify and address their concerns about radionuclides, other types of contamination, and adverse changes in their environment. It is a joint effort among two U.S. EPA program offices, the University of Alaska's Institute of Social and Economic Research, and the Alaska Native Science Commission. A key objective of the project will be to synthesize and share information gathered from Alaska Natives and Western scientists through an Internet accessible database and a series of meetings conducted with the Native communities and scientists, with the goal to identify common and divergent understandings of environmental change as well as the role of radionuclides and other contaminants in adverse environmental impacts.



Last updated: April 4, 2002


“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestor, we borrow it from our children”
Native American Proverb