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Beaver as Educator: A Summer Program for Native American Youth – Journal of Native Sciences

Beaver as Educator: A Summer Program for Native American Youth

By: Ed Galindo, Sky Pete, Chris Cleveland, Barb Pete, Casey Bartrem, Tod Shockey, and Lori Lambert, 24 May 2022

Abstract This essay seeks to understand the many “ways” or modalities that American Indian students and the community learns and understand new concepts. We provide insights into the reasons of “why” and “how” American Indian people gain new knowledge. We provide an examination of four days of instruction to American Indian students on the Duck Valley reservation in Southern Idaho and Northern Nevada. The first educational objective was to understand the process to capture some “problem” beavers in live traps and move them to a more suitable stream on the mountains of the reservation. Our second educational objective introduced students to the methods of measuring water quality and reporting these findings. To build these American Indian students understanding of water analysis, students investigated the water quality of the beaver habitat and compared these results to the water quality in their homes. Inherent in these objectives was the appropriate and safe handling of the beavers, both for the sake of the beaver as well as the safety of the students. We provide evidence that learning can occur both outside and inside a classroom. Through the learning process of “Two-Eyed Seeing” developed by Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall, it becomes clear that the consideration of Indigenous World Views and Western Science methods can lead to richer understandings.