culture into the subculture of science. These border crossings often involve code switching (different discourse practices and forms of argumentation) and therefore require students to be proficient in more than one linguistic tradition (McCarthy, 1980). To illustrate these points, we draw on the contrast between Native American science and Western science (Brayboy and Castagno, 2007).

It is important to keep in mind that there is not one native culture and to resist essentializing tribal cultures. There are more than 500 federally recognized tribes, and as many or more languages from more than 50 language families. There are some similarities in the epistemologies and ontologies of different tribal peoples, but this does not imply that a single or unified native science or native epistemology characterizes all tribal nations or all indigenous people.

It is evident from history that indigenous peoples have long been scientists and inventors of scientific ideas. Indigenous peoples in the Americas created toboggans to carry the heavy carcasses of deer and caribou; built seaworthy kayaks and canoes; constructed snowshoes and snow goggles; domesticated a wide range of plants, including corn, potatoes, squash, beans, and peanuts; built architectural masterpieces in which they lived and ovens in which they cooked; used petroleum to create rubber and stars to successfully navigate the continent; and found ways to dry meat for storage and future use.

Awareness of the need to improve science education for indigenous students is not new. Thirty years ago, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) noted that one primary obstacle to indigenous participation in science was the lack of relevance of science to their lives. Based on this observation, the AAAS issued a number of recommendations for improving science teaching and learning for native youth. These recommendations included using an ethnoscientific approach to teaching science and a bilingual approach in particular contexts. In response, scholars have called for science education that directly relates to the lives of indigenous students and tribal communities. Most scholars agree that, to be most effective, learning environments must be connected and relevant to the local community, rather than some perceived unitary indigenous community (Aikenhead, 2001; Allen and Seumptewa, 1993; Cajete, 1988, 1999; Davison and Miller, 1998).

The goal of science education through a multicultural or culturally responsive lens is not only to connect science to indigenous students’ lives, but also to create better scientists and students with stronger critical thinking skills. These goals are shared by scholars and tribal community members alike. Kawagley (1999) and Martin (1995) have found that tribal elders from Yup’ik and Iroquoian communities want their youth to learn multiple world views and be able to operate in both the dominant and tribal communities. A further goal of science education ought to be to foster more positive at-

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement