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Native American Field Studies

Blackfeet Community College’s Native Science Field Center emphasizes “outdoor classrooms” and field monitoring programs that inventory native plants and document their distribution, along with traditional and medicinal uses. At the Native Science Field Center’s outdoor classroom sites in the mountains and plains, adults and youth ages 8-18 will conduct inventories of native plants and document their relationships within local watersheds, Youth and adults will also collect data on the cultural uses of native plants and their medicinal properties and linguistic meanings as shared by elders.

Some native plants that are culturally important to the Blackfeet are being over harvested, like Sweetgrass, and need to be monitored and replanted. Changes in native plant communities over time may be indicators of climate change in ways that are both scientifically valid and culturally significant. The Blackfeet NSFC Field Monitoring program emphasizes on native plants and will enable them to share their expertise with other NSFC’s and sites that desire to develop this locus of expertise. As BCC staff cultivate and replant native plants, they will share this expertise with other NSFC sites.

Goals:

  • Create three model tribal community-centered Native Science Field Centers that develop year-round environmental science field monitoring programs (modeled after the Field Museum’s Urban Watch) and disseminate these programs to six additional tribes.
  • Develop STEM career/adder learning opportunities for youth ages 8-18 and adults in order to develop a citizenry capable of using scientific expertise to monitor and manage Western lands and waterways.
  • Create new technologies on how to evaluate Native science programs using innovative and indigenous evaluation methodologies.
  • Compile a new publication for the SE community that summarizes best practices on how to develop and evaluate culturally-grounded science programs
  • USDA Extension Grant – Blackfeet Community College Extension, 2010-2014
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