But is it science?

The movement among scholars of science communication—non-Indian and Indians alike—has been to elevate Native science to the same level as Western science.

Like Laurie Anderson’s song, typically science is considered Big Science.

Science with a capital S.

Native science, on the other hand, is removed several steps from the hierarchy, a lonely cousin on a lower branch of empirical knowledge.

Several researchers have taken on the task to elevate indigenous knowledge systems: Gregory Cajete, who wrote the book Native Science, and a handful of other friends and colleagues note than American Indians have long used empiricism and scientific methods.

But I’ve reached a turning point: I think we can never elevate Native science to the same plane as Big Science.

Instead, I’m putting my energy into unpacking the beliefs we have about Big Science, particularly the myth that Science is value-free.

One of the criticisms of Native science is that it is fraught with values.

My argument is that Big Science is just the same—built on a platform of cherished values, such as progress and discovery.

Once we unveil the trappings of Big Science we can begin mindful discussions about what really propels all our knowledge systems: a foundation encrusted with values.

Let the talks begin.

Image from Laurie Anderson’s album, Big Science



About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, authenticity, Indian, Native Science, science, science communication, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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