Native Women Tackle 
Science and Win--Carol Berry 

From earth to sky, there’s no frontier Native American women haven’t crossed, from mapping the earth to flying through hurricanes to mastering animal science and promoting indigenous knowledge.

Lisa Lone Fight, enrolled in the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (Sahnish) Nation, is the great-granddaughter of Buffalo Bird Woman, an expert in Native agricultural science whose gardening techniques have been the topic of conversations about sustainability and of at least one book,Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden, originally published as Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians: An Indian Interpretation by Gilbert Livingstone Wilson (University of Minnesota, 1917).

Lone Fight believes she’s carrying on Buffalo Bird Woman’s traditional knowledge of the earth through research on mapping and the commonalities of traditional knowledge, geospatial science and land change over time.

Science is definitely in her background—her adult name is Takes Care of the Wind and the elders told her she was supposed to learn about it. It’s one of the many things she’s studied on her path to her current studies in remote sensing in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Science at Montana State University.

One of the topics of remote sensing, co-researched with elders, has been the change in soil quality since the Garrison Dam changed the lives of many people and it hasn’t been possible—at least yet—to be “restored to how we used to live,” as her father hoped.

The dam flooded more than 150,000 acres of fertile river bottomland—most of the land that had sustained tribal farming and ranching operations for generations. Families were relocated, and timber, wildlife habitat and mineral deposits were submerged, as were graves of family members.

Lone Fight’s father recalled that “As water was rising around us, we were still negotiating about whether we’d build the dam or not.” The elders came together and said, “Where should we build the dam?” Lone Fight said, adding that if the decision had been made in the traditional way, the tribal members would have been able to continue living there as before.

She wants to share with youth. At the Wind River Native Science Field Center on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, she would ask students what they thought a scientist looked like. Predictably, they described an Einstein-like man with disheveled white hair in a lab. However, when asked the same question at the end of the program, they responded, “me.” . . . 




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View from the Native Eye

Take a look at some photography from the unique eye of Lisa Lone Fight. More images

In a battle between culture and technology, bet on culture.

Lisa Lone Fight participated in a discussion on the centrality of culture in Native societies as it relates to "green" technology and other issues.

From the report: "... it soon became evident, for the Indian participants cultural resilience was the overriding concern. Culture was the touchstone to which the Roundtable discussion returned time and time again in all definitions of resilience."

Read the full report

Indigenous Science: A unique way of seeing, learning, knowing, teaching

There is a science derived from place; from cycles and seasons and living with the Earth, water, wind and sky. It is a science of close observation; a science of recording, documenting and experiencing. It is a science of experimentation and creation and perhaps most uniquely of all, considering Western science and its "rush to the future," it is a science of tradition. It has become known as indigenous science, and in the 21st century this may be the most critical science of all.


"Native people are tied to geography; we are a people of place.  The very nature of being “indigenous” springs from sacred connections to specific locations.  We are also however people of space and image and time.  We constantly seek perspectives and information about the world that explain it and the beings within it. Our culture heroes go to buttes and mountains and often "take to the air" in search of this knowledge. Stories of "Remote Sensing" pervade our cultural realities, making spatial science our business for thousands of millenia. .. ." (Excerpt from Lisa's Upcoming Article on Remote Sensing)