As industrialized nations continue to wrestle with the daunting challenge of fending off the direst effects of the global climate crisis, many are increasingly recognizing the value and utility of indigenous knowledge and native science.
On March 24, New Mexico State University’s Climate Change Education Seminar Series will offer a virtual talk exploring the topic of “Indigenous Perspectives in Science” and how long-overlooked insights can inform a sustainable relationship with our threatened planet.
The talk features Gregory Cajete, professor emeritus of Native American Studies and Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico. Cajete, a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo in northern New Mexico, has designed culturally-responsive curricula that are based upon a Native American understanding of the “nature of nature.”
Cajete is the author of five books, including “Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education,” “A People’s Ecology: Explorations in Sustainable Living,” and “Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence.”
“The accumulated knowledge of indigenous peoples represents a body of ancient knowledge and practice in relationship with special environments that must be recognized and appropriately revitalized as a foundation of environmental wisdom,” Cajete said. “In addition, indigenous life-centered worldviews provide examples for evolving the kind of cosmological reorientation so desperately needed by modern societies. Modern understanding and the reapplication of an indigenous-inspired relationship to nature can provide keys to creating the kind of communal, economic and political structures that we need to address the monumental challenges of climate change.”
NMSU anthropology professor Don Pepion, a member of the Blackfeet Nation whose interests include indigenous ways of knowing, said that his own academic work has been strongly influenced by hearing Cajete’s annual conversations with other native scholars at a sort of think tank.
Cajete’s talk is the first of four spring semester events sponsored by NMSU that focus on environmental sustainability. Additional events include:
• 5:30 p.m. April 7: Solve Climate by 2030 webinar on New Mexico goals led by student group Defend Our Future.
• 6 p.m. April 21: Lecture on regenerative agriculture featuring NMSU alum Ray Archuleta, a former soil scientist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and David Johnson, senior research scientist in the NMSU College of Engineering.
• April 22: Talk by Michelle Graves, director of the Global Design Challenge and Launchpad for the Biomimicry Institute.
For more information and to register for the events, visit https://sustainability.nmsu.edu/nmsuccess/.