Native Americans and Science: Enhancing Participation of Native Americans in the Science and Technology Workforce through Culturally Responsive Science Education


  • Gregory Cajete University of New Mexico



Native Americans, science education, culturally responsive education


 A major issue that directly affects the participation of Native Americans in the science and technology workforce is the lack of preparation in science and math. This lack of preparation has many causes, but one of the most strategically important issues is the lack of culturally relevant curricula that engage Native American students in learning science in personal, social and culturally meaningful ways. This essay explores the needs, issues, research, and development of culturally responsive science education for Native American learners. A curriculum model created by the author at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 1974 to 1994 based on Native American cultural orientations is explored as a case study as one example of how to engage Native American students in science learning and become more prepared to participate in science and technology-related professions. As such, it presents a methodology for how trans-systemic work might be approached in building conceptual bridges between Indigenous and Western views of science. 

Author Biography

Gregory Cajete, University of New Mexico

Gregory Cajete is a Native American educator whose work is dedicated to honouring indigenous knowledge foundations in education. He is a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico and has lectured at colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Italy, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, England, France and Germany.  He worked at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for 21 years. While at the Institute, he served as Dean of the Center for Research and Cultural Exchange, Chair of Native American Studies and Professor of Ethnoscience. He is the former Director of Native American Studies and Emeritus Professor in the Division of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Cajete has authored or co-authored ten books, including Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education (Kivaki Press, 1994), Ignite the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Curriculum Model (Kivaki Press, 1999), and Indigenous Community: Rekindling Teachings of the Seventh Fire (Living Justice Press, 2015). Email: 


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How to Cite

Cajete, G. (2021). Native Americans and Science: Enhancing Participation of Native Americans in the Science and Technology Workforce through Culturally Responsive Science Education. Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning, 7(1), 122–139.

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