Native American Heritage Month


What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

We are proud to shine light on Native American Heritage Month by highlighting some TERC staff projects that celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Indigenous people along with the important contributions they make to STEM education.

For additional ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, visit the First Nations Development Institute's website.

Native STEM Portraits: A Longitudinal, Mixed-Methods Study of the Intersectional Experiences of Native Learners and Professionals in STEM


Native STEM Portraits: A Longitudinal, Mixed-Methods Study of the Intersectional Experiences of Native Learners and Professionals in STEM (NSP) is a three-year NSF-funded project that investigates the experiences of Native STEM students and professionals in order to make visible how they navigate, respond to, and are changed by the supports and barriers they encounter while trying to persist in STEM. Through surveys and photo elicitation interviews, the study found that the desire and opportunity to give back to their communities and contribute to Nation building through their STEM disciplines play a key role in motivating Native students and professionals to persist in STEM.

More about the project ...

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Native Women and Two-Spirit Individuals in Computing Higher Education (NAWC2)

This study examines landscape data and trends on participation of Native women and two-spirit individuals in computing through a scoping review of the existing literature. It then explores unique barriers facing Native women and factors that have influenced and supported their persistence in computing undergraduate education through photo elicitation interviews. Photo elicitation consists in using photographs taken by the participants in the context of interviews to explore their experiences.

More about the project ...

Multiplex Theme of the Month, October 2022, Indigenous Ways of Learning 

indigenous_waysThis theme of the month and expert panel webinar highlighted processes involved in Indigenous ways of learning — learning by collaboration, making a difference/giving back, intergenerational connection, responsibility, and respect. Three project teams that study learning and how to foster it in Indigenous communities discussed what can be learned from Indigenous ways of learning, for Indigenous peoples and the world at large.

Storytelling Math — Look, Grandma! Ni, Elisi!


Description automatically generatedBy: Art Coulson   
Illustrated by: Madelyn Goodnight

How can it fit?

Bo wants to find the perfect container to show off his traditional marbles for Cherokee National Holiday. It needs to be just the right size: big enough to fit all the marbles, but not too big to fit in his family's booth at the festival. 

This installation in the Storytelling Math series playfully explores volume and capacity, featuring Native characters and a glossary of Cherokee words.

More about the project ...

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TERC Presenter Series—Portraits of Native Identity in Computer Science for Academic Persistence — “I juggle both Native and Western Science”

By Nuria Jaumot-Pascual, Kathy DeerInWater, Christina Bebe Silva, and Maria (Mia) Ong


This presentation features the findings of the study titled, Native Women and Two-Spirit Individuals in Computing Higher Education: A Photo Elicitation Study of Persistence (NAWC2). NAWC2 is a one-year study funded by the Women of Color in Computing Collaborative (Kapor Center/Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology, ASU). This study uses the method of photo elicitation (Harper, 2002), which inserts participant-generated photographs in one-on-one interviews, to understand the experiences of Native women and two-spirit individuals’ persistence in computer science and how their identities intersect.

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From teacher to social science researcher on Native students’ experiences and community cultural wealth

fig2_ItFitsBy: Angela D’Souza 

How do STEM departments and institutions recruit and sustain Native individuals’ participation in a given discipline, in ways that value their uniquely Indigenous ways of knowing and being? If Native science is not included in classroom instruction, can we expect to increase representation and perseverance of Native people in cell and molecular biology, geosciences, engineering?

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“I Think Around the Box.” Experiences of a Native Two-Spirit Undergraduate Student in Computing

By: Christina Silva, Nuria Jaumot-Pascual, Mia Ong, & Kathy DeerInWater
Publication: Hands On! TERC


With such a scarcity of research on two-spirit individuals in STEM, in this article we bring forward findings from NAWC2 about a participant who called himself Tokala and identified as two-spirit, and shared how his identity as a two-spirit Native man influenced his journey as an undergraduate in CS.

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What Motivates Native Computer Science Students? A New Study Looks at How Giving Back Helps Undergraduates Stick with a Challenging Major

By: Christina Silva, Nuria Jaumot-Pascual, Mia Ong, & Kathy DeerInWater
Publication: Winds of Change, AISES

According to the NSF, Indigenous people, especially those who identify as Native women and two-spirit individuals, are currently underrepresented in the field. To understand what promotes — and what hinders —persistence in undergraduate CS programs, a team from AISES and TERC, a nonprofit focused on promoting equal access to STEM learning opportunities, conducted research.

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Indigenous Perspectives for a Sustainable Environment

By Billie Warren, Guest BloggerBillieWarren_web

In November 2020, TERC’s iSWOOP project (Interpreters and Scientists Working on Our Parks) co-sponsored Indigenous Perspectives for a Sustainable Environment. This webinar series introduced an Indigenous Science perspective on conservation to educators, land managers, and environmentalists and explored how Indigenous Science can improve our sustainability efforts. The series was organized by Billie Warren, an educational and environmental consultant and Pokagon Potawatomi citizen, whose work includes sharing her unique Indigenous perspective on history and environmental sustainability. 




Native American Heritage Month
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