History Colorado Awarded $2.2 Million for Ute Project

Ute Encampment site near Denver. Photographed by William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) during the Hayden Geological Survey of 1874. Credit: History Colorado.
Ute Encampment site near Denver. Photographed by William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) during the Hayden Geological Survey of 1874. Credit: History Colorado.

National Science Foundation Awards $2.2 Million to History Colorado for Collaborative Project on Ute Indian Traditional Scientific Knowledge

Released by Brooke Gladstone, History Colorado

On September 23, 2016, History Colorado announced that it had been awarded a $2.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning program. The project explores the integration of Native American knowledge with Western science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“Congratulations to History Colorado on receiving recognition from the National Science Foundation,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “History Colorado is leading the way in innovative methods to collaborate with the tribes, and this grant offers a terrific opportunity for teachers, students and the tribes to continue partnering.”

The five-year grant will engage 128,000 STEM learners, educators, and experts across Colorado and Utah in: cutting-edge archaeological and ethnobotanical field work;  interactive exhibits and videos; public programs for families and adults; statewide K-12 education outreach programs, digital badges, and teacher training; and findings for museums, tribes, and scientists.

Ute STEM expands on successful collaborations between History Colorado, the three Ute Tribes, and scientist partners. Representatives of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Southern Ute Tribe, and the Ute Indian Tribe— Uintah and Ouray Reservation will participate in all aspects of the project. The Dominguez Archaeological Group and ethnobotanist Kelly Kindscher, of University of Kansas, bring extensive experience to this project.

These programs are designed to provide rural residents with increased STEM experiences. Key audiences include Ute elders and youth at the three Ute reservations, as well as K-12 students, families, and adults in Colorado and Utah counties. The project will foster partnerships with History Colorado museums, tribal education departments, local school districts, libraries, museums, and environmental education organizations.

“This project offers a unique approach to interpretation of Ute history by focusing on science and acknowledging Ute use of science in conjunction with traditional knowledge,” said Ernest House Jr., Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs. “The field work may interest some Ute youth in pursuing careers in science and in learning more about their own culture.”

Ute STEM will highlight Ute peoples’ systematic knowledge of plants, engineering of shelters, mathematical patterns in beadwork, and sound amplification for music and dance. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous peoples, developed from experience and passed down over centuries. Ute STEM will demonstrate that TEK and western STEM fields are complementary approaches to scientific understanding. History Colorado will provide an innovative collaboration model for history museums, tribes, and scientists.

On September 27, 2016, 12:40pm, a special media event will be held at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, Denver CO. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Ernest House Jr. will be on-site engaging with elementary school students participating in Ute STEM activities.

For more information on History Colorado, visit their website at www.historycolorado.org.

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