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Native Science: The Indigenous Mind Rising

Lecture Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Gregory Cajete

In the advent of global climate change, Indigenous communities worldwide have become increasingly concerned about issues of sustainability related to their lands, waters, natural resources, and cultural ways of life. In many parts of the world, Indigenous populations are directly and negatively affected by the environmental, social, economic and political consequences of a dramatically changing climate. For Indigenous communities, climate change highlights the need for the development of “sustainability informed” science education that allows for a way of learning science that incorporates an understanding of how to sustain Indigenous cultures and communities. An Indigenous Sustainability Informed approach to STEM education can form an important foundation for the inter-disciplinary and social/cultural relevant science education needed by Indigenous communities as they attempt to address the challenges and impacts of climate change in their communities. This presentation provides a prospectus for curriculum research that would begin a process for the design and implementation of “sustainability informed” STEM-related education for Indigenous community-based education.


Gregory Cajete, Native American educator whose work is dedicated to honoring the foundations of indigenous knowledge in education. Dr. Cajete is a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. He has served as a New Mexico Humanities scholar in ethno botany of Northern New Mexico and as a member of the New Mexico Arts Commission. In addition, he has lectured at colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Italy, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, England, France, and Germany.

He worked at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico for 21 years. While at the Institute, he served as Dean of the Center for Research and Cultural Exchange, Chair of Native American Studies and Professor of ethno-science. He organized and directed the First and Second Annual National Native American Very Special Arts Festival held in respectively in Santa Fe, NM in 1991 and Albuquerque, NM in 1992. In 1995, he was offered a position in American Indian education at the University of New Mexico, College of Education

Currently, he is Director of Native American Studies and a Professor in the Division of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Cajete earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from New Mexico Highlands University with majors in both Biology and Sociology and a minor in Secondary Education. He received his Masters of Arts degree from the University of New Mexico in Adult and Secondary Education. He received his Ph.D. from International College – Los Angeles -New Philosophy Program in Social Science Education with an emphasis in Native American Studies.

Dr. Cajete has received several fellowships and academic distinctions, including the American Indian Graduate Fellowship from the US-DOE Office of Indian Education (1977-78); the D’arcy McNickle Fellowship in American Indian History from the Newberry Library, Chicago, IL (1984-85); and the first Katrin Lamon Fellowship in American Indian Art and Education (1985-1986) from the School of American Research in Santa Fe, NM.

Dr. Cajete is a practicing ceramic, pastel, and metal artist. He is extensively involved with art and its application to education. He is also a scholar of herbalism and holistic health. In this capacity, he has researched Native American, Chinese and Ayurvedic healing philosophies and the cultural perspectives of health and wholeness.

Dr. Cajete also designs culturally-responsive curricula geared to the special needs and learning styles of Native American students. These curricula are based upon Native American understanding of the “nature of nature’ and utilizes this foundation to develop an understanding of the science and artistic thought process as expressed in Indigenous perspectives of the natural world.

Dr. Cajete has authored seven books: Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education, (Kivaki Press, 1994); Ignite the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Curriculum Model, (Kivaki Press, 1999); “Spirit of the Game: Indigenous Wellsprings (2004), A People’s Ecology: Explorations in Sustainable Living, and Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence (Clear Light Publishers, 1999 and 2000). Critical Neurophilosophy and Indigenous Wisdom, Don Jacobs (Four Arrows), Gregory Cajete and Jongmin Lee) Sense Publishers, 2010. Indigenous Community: Teachings of the Seventh Fire, Living Justice Press, 2015). Dr. Cajete also has chapters in 25 other books along with numerous articles and over 275 national and international presentations.


Portland Forum in Innovation Hall
716 Stevens Avenue
Portland, ME 04103

Assigned Reading

Gregory Cajete, Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence, (Clear Light Publishers, 2016)


5 p.m. in Global Plaza, Innovation Hall


(207) 221-4435

Native Science: The Indigenous Mind Rising Poster
6:00 PM
Portland Forum in Innovation Hall

Portland Campus

Free and open to the public