According to this new article in Nature, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has just launched the Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science (CBIKS) based at UMass Amherst with $30 million in funding over five years. The center joins more than a dozen active NSF Science and Technology Centers across the United States that focus on core research areas.The goal is to “cultivate Indigenous knowledge of the environment, and weave it together with Western scientific methods.” It will focus on projects around medicine, weather, climate, and biology. Of particular interest to librarians, the center has “developed its own protocols for managing intellectual property, to ensure that Indigenous communities have a say in how and when information is used by outside entities.”
“As Indigenous people, we have science, but we carry that science in stories,” says archaeologist and center co-director Sonya Atalay who is of Anishinaabe-Ojibwe heritage. “We need to think about how to do science in a different way and work differently with Indigenous communities.”
As well as advancing Indigenous science, CBIKS will attempt to set itself apart in how knowledge and information are managed, disseminated and ultimately returned to Indigenous communities.
Atalay says that her nightmare scenario is a well-established one in which, for example, scientists tap into local plant knowledge and publish and ultimately appropriate it for profit through drug companies. The centre has already developed its own protocols for managing intellectual property, to ensure that Indigenous communities have a say in how and when information is used by outside entities, she says.
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