It had been a long time since I had traveled to Idaho; I think the last time I had been there was with my grandmother. My family and I would take annual vacations, and one year we drove through Idaho to Canada. My work with the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship (GCCE) and the partnership with Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative (SNCC) have been motivating. As a youngster, growing up in Navajo Country in Eastern Agency (New Mexico), my grandma always told me that my life will soon be for my people, I think that life has begun.
Recently, I was invited to chair a session and speak at the 4th Annual Western Consortium Tri-State Meeting in Sun Valley Idaho, April 2-4, 2012. The National Science Foundation EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) has joined programs forming a consortium of EPSCoR states with similar research agendas related to climate change and water resources. The consortium model significantly increase opportunities for scientific collaborative and enhances each state’s ability to secure competitive funding and tackle complex climate change research agendas.
My presentation on “Building a Sustainable Native Community” was a bit “outside” of the box for the attendees, as our work with SNCC is to build a nationwide network of tribal leaders, builders, architects, and entrepreneurs. Our goal is foster the success of endeavors that weave cultural, ecological, and economic considerations in design and building in tribal communities. Although, this kind of work was very new and somewhat unfamiliar to many of the scientist who attended, my session had the most attendees. After the presentations, I had numerous people come up and comment on how they never thought about work such as SNCC. One particular individual, Dr. Alessa Lilian Na’ia, a well-known Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Geography & Environmental Sciences from the University of Alaska was so thrive and excited about the SNCC work, she invited me to attend a panel in June in Alaska.
As part of the session, I invited a very good friend, and royalty of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe of Idaho. Alexandria Alverez, who is Miss Shoshone-Bannock 2011-2012. I asked Miss Shoshone-Bannock for an opening welcome during the session; this being appropriate as we were all in her homeland, plus with only five Natives attended, she brought the “Native” into the atmosphere as she wrote her traditional clothing.
The session also included a presentation from Sammy L. Matsaw, Jr. from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe on “Using Science to Explore Our Paths: Western Science with Native Perspective,” and also a presentation by Mahesh R. Gautam on “Collaborative modeling and integrated framework of climate change vulnerability assessment for Native American Tribes.”