Connecting With Land and Heritage Goes High Tech for Tribal Youth

Friday, July 26 2013


MOSCOW, Idaho – For three weeks this summer, 24 members of the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane tribes are connecting with their Native American heritage through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education at Back to the Earth camp (BTTE). July 29-Aug. 1, fourth through sixth grade tribal members will be at University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene for the final week of Back to the Earth Camp.

BTTE brings scientists, STEM educators, tribal leaders and students together to explore environmental and cultural issues. The program provides STEM-rich afterschool and summer programs for students in grades four through six on the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane reservations.

The regional watershed is a focal point for BTTE because it connects the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane tribes physically and culturally.

“These students are connecting to the land. They learn about the watershed, ecosystems and natural resource management and how it relates to their native culture,” explained Mindy Howard, UI doctoral student in curriculum and science education. “It’s important for when they are adults they will continue to invest in restoring the land and water back to the way it was 150 years ago.”

“Lake Coeur d’Alene was the center of our aboriginal homeland and continues to be of great importance to the Tribe today. The BTTE program gives our kids a chance to learn the historical and cultural significance of the lake. Just as importantly, they are developing a passion and an interest in protecting the Lake for future generations of Coeur d’ Alenes and all Idahoans,” said Dr. Chris Meyer, Director of Education for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

Students use the data collected from the watershed to create a “virtual watershed,” a web-based site that includes an interactive map with geospatial locations of social, cultural and scientific significance. The students document their work through video, podcasts and blogs.

Back to the Earth is a three-year project funded through a $1.1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant until 2015. The regional Back to the Earth program is a partnership between University of Idaho faculty in Curriculum and Instruction, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the Spokane Tribe. It is one of five funded by the National Science Foundation across the U.S. on tribal lands.
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho inspires students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Big Sky Conference. Through the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures capital campaign, private giving will enhance student learning, faculty research and innovation, and a spirit of enterprise. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.

Media Contact: Andrea Thomas, University Communications-North, (208) 292-1401, andreat@uidaho.edu



About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.