A Smithsonian traveling exhibition that explores the ways in which traditional knowledge of Indigenous communities and cutting-edge Western science are being applied is now available for viewing at the Philomath Museum through Nov. 26.
“Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science” tells four inspiring stories of environmental and cultural restoration from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Tulalip Tribes, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and native Hawaiians to give visitors examples of how traditional knowledge and Western science provide complementary solutions to ecological and health challenges.
The Philomath Museum is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission is free.
The stories featured in “Roots of Wisdom” reflect the sacred relationship that each community has with its homeland and pass along knowledge of the environment, history, social values and spiritual beliefs.
Today, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla) are using their resources to restore waterways and native species in Eastern Oregon and the Columbia River Basin.
The Tulalip Tribes of Northwest Washington are rediscovering native foods, raising organic foods and, in the process, reconnecting to native food and traditional medicine plants. In doing so, they combine traditional knowledge and Western science for a more culturally appropriate approach to health care.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is working with scientists and regional groups to restore river cane in its homelands of Western North Carolina. They are also revitalizing cultural traditions that use the cane, such as basket making.
And, Native Hawaiians are using traditional knowledge and Western science to restore parts of the land divisions or small communities called ahupua’a (“ah-hoo-poo-ah-ah”), which spanned from mountaintop to the ocean. Although fish-pond restoration is challenging, the work is significant for Hawaiian culture and potentially important for future sustainable food sources.
“Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science” was developed, produced and circulated by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
The exhibition was made possible with funds provided by the National Science Foundation.