Below I’ve woven together words that describe what I do for the book’s editors and I welcome your advice about whether the description makes sense to you:
My work examines the ruptures and linkages between indigenous sciences and mainstream sciences, and I study how public discourse of environmental, science, health and risk issues impact American Indian tribes.
I’ve written about the launching of a copper mine on seded land in Wisconsin, conflicts over the provenance of Kennewick Man (The Ancient One), and management of salmon fisheries at the Columbia River framed in public channels of discourse, particularly in mass media.
Public discourse tends to frame such environmental conflicts narrowly, often in Western scientific terms and along political dimensions that ignore or misrepresent indigenous perspectives and epistemologies.
An example of this narrow discourse emerges from a news feature about Kennewick Man—the 9200-year-old skeleton uncovered in the Columbia River in North America—where the reporter claims the “central question of concern is who was here first?”
I argue this question is one posed by anthropologists, politicians, news reporters and others with an interest in studying the skeleton—not indigenous peoples.
Local tribes attempted (unsuccessfully) to have the skeleton returned under the United States’ Native American Graves and Repatriation Act–legislation designed to honor tribal sovereignty and return artifacts to tribes.
While it is true that Kennewick Man’s genetic haplogroup is of great interest to many scientists, the more salient issue to tribes is who gets to determine the “central question of concern.”
My research has explored the ways in which truth-claims surrounding environmental justice issues that affect North American tribes have rested principally within the province of non-Indians.
Thanks for listening. I welcome your thoughts.
7 November Blog for National Native American Heritage Month
Time magazine cover story on Kennewick Man from http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=kennewick+man&qpvt=kennewick+man&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=8E6E8F71E130838665574936C8934CAA8740ABB7&selectedIndex=48