Cross-Cultural Education of Geoscience Professionals: The Conferences of the Indigenous Earth Sciences Project Academic Article uri icon


  • As Native Americans gain increasing control and autonomy over their lands, the lack of scientific expertise in these communities and the low representation of Native American students in science programs become more urgent problems. This is especially true in the Earth and environmental sciences because of the many resource and land management issues faced by tribal groups. Many regional programs exist to develop culturally-appropriate curricula for Native American students, but none exist which serve the Native Americans of Southern California, and few of these programs also focus on the education of non-Indian geoscience professionals who work on or near Native American lands. We present results from a qualitative study based on inaugural meetings of the Indigenous Earth Sciences Project where professional geoscientists and tribal representatives gathered to exchange scientific and Native American views of regional geology and Earth science education for American Indian communities. Major themes which emerged from analysis of written comments collected from participants after the conferences revealed a sense of the legitimate possibilities for constructively incorporating indigenous knowledge into Euro-American geoscientific knowledge. Much of this stemmed from new exposure to indigenous world-views and also underscored a need to bring more Native Americans into the study and practice of the Earth sciences. The meetings have also formed the basis for development of Earth science education programs for Native American communities and an increase in the prominence of issues relating to Native Americans in the professional geoscience community.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Geoscience Education

author list (cited authors)

  • Riggs, E. M., & Riggs, D. M.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Riggs, Eric M||Riggs, Dawn Marsh

publication date

  • January 2003