Plan Your Visit Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science.

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Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science.

Overcoming centuries of environmental and cultural challenges can make for unexpected partnerships that result in extraordinary outcomes. In Roots of Wisdom, stories from four indigenous communities are brought to life in real-world examples of how traditional knowledge and cutting-edge Western science can be blended to provide complementary solutions to contemporary concerns. 

From restoring ecosystems to rediscovering traditional foods and crafts, Roots of Wisdom invites guests to understand the important issues that indigenous cultures face, discover innovative ways native peoples are problem-solving and contributing to the growing movement towards sustainability and the reclamation of age-old practices.

  • Re-establishing a Native Plant (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) - The river cane plays a prominent role both in revitalizing cultural practices and restoring ecosystems. Guest will learn how this hardy plant affects water quality and how Cherokee elders are teaching new generations about the traditional craft of basket weaving. Visitors are invited to experiment with river environments and even try their hand at basket weavings.
  • Restoring Fish Ponds (Hawaii) - Guests are given a chance to act as a caretaker of a fish pond or join a droplet of water on an incredible journey down a Hawaiian mountainside in these popular hands-on interactives. Visitors learn how native ecosystems have been disrupted and what is being done to restore these innovative forms of aquaculture, which could be a critical component to food sustainability for the people of Hawaii.
  • Rediscovering Traditional Foods (Tulalip Tribes) - Through a clever computer interactive, hands-on activities, and recorded stories, guests learn how Tulalip Tribes are striving to find a balance in their need for natural resources against the loss of land rights and environmental degradation. Visitors learn about traditional practices of wild harvesting and gardening. They will discover through Western science how these techniques are beneficial to human health.
  • Saving Streams and Wildlife (Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation) - Seen as a pest in some areas of the country, the lamprey is an eel-like fish that is important both ecologically and as a food source to many indigenous people. In this fun interactive, visitors can pick up a replica lamprey as would a scientist. Visitors learn about the traditional stewardship of the lamprey and how the fish is a critical component of the ecosystem that the Umatilla Tribes depend on. Find out how traditional ecological knowledge and Western science are being applied to bring this amazing little fish back from the brink of extinction.

Visitors are invited to explore the unique relationship between Western science and native ecological knowledge. From everyday items like duck decoys to surfboards, popcorn to chocolate, guests will learn how native knowledge impacts our daily lives, and recognize the great contributions that indigenous peoples have provided over centuries.

Additional Resources: Educator GuideEducator ResourcesSchedule a Field Trip For Your Class

This exhibition is sponsored by Alycia Patencio-Travis & Reuben Travis.

Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science., was produced and is toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). The exhibit was made possible with funds provided by the National Science Foundation.



September 30, 2017 to January 14, 2018


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Included with admission

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