In this paper we put forth a model of Indigenous pedagogies that cultivate more ethical relations and complex thinking about water. The first dimension of Indigenous water pedagogies is relations with water which involves ethical decision-making involving water and other more-than-human beings that are in relation to water. The second dimension is reading water which involves learning to make sense of complex phenomena to build theories and explanations about water is it exists in the environment. Together, these two dimensions support complex thinking and decision-making about water in a way that is guided with reciprocal relations with water. We discuss three examples of Indigenous water pedagogies as they are enacted in the context of an Indigenous STEAM program that spans across two sites and involves interactions with the Chicago River, Puget Sound, and rain.
Forrest Bruce (Ojibwe) is a PhD student in the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University. He is broadly interested in land-based education and the design of community-based learning environments that support Indigenous ways of knowing and being. He received a BS in Social Policy from Northwestern University and worked in Chicago Public Schools’ American Indian Education Program (Title 6) for one year before joining the ISTEAM research project, first as a research coordinator and later as a graduate student.
Megan Bang (Ojibwe and Italian descent) is a professor of the learning sciences and psychology at Northwestern University and recently served as the senior vice president at the Spencer Foundation. Dr. Bang studies
dynamics of culture, learning, and development broadly with a specific focus on the complexities of navigating multiple meaning systems in creating and implementing more effective and just learning environments in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics education. She focuses on reasoning and decision-making about complex socio-ecological systems in
ways that intersect with culture, power, and historicity. Central to this work are dimensions of identity, equity, and community engagement. She conducts research in both schools and informal settings across the life course. She has taught in and conducted research in teacher education as well as leadership preparation programs. Dr. Bang currently serves on the Board of Science Education at the National Academy of Sciences. She also serves as an executive editor of Cognition and Instruction and is on the editorial boards of several other top tiered journals in the field.
Anna Lees (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, descendant) began her career as an early childhood classroom teacher in rural northern Michigan. Now, an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at Western Washington University, she partners with schools and communities in teacher preparation. Anna is committed to developing and sustaining reciprocal relationships with Indigenous communities to engage community leaders as co-teacher educators, opening spaces for Indigenous values and ways of knowing and being in early childhood settings and teacher education. She is currently engaged in research around a land education professional development model led my tribal nations and a relationship-based site embedded professional development model with tribal early learning programs.
Nikki McDaid (Shoshone-Bannock) is a parent, partner, and doctoral candidate in the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University. Her research interests are broadly focused on informal and formal learning environments
at the intersection of land-based education and Indigenous resurgence. She is a former middle school and high school teacher and currently teaches in Dr. Megan Bang's Indigenous STEAM program. She earned her MA in Teaching from Pacific University and her BS in Sociology from Northeastern University.
Felicia Peters (Menominee and Santo Domingo Pueblo) is the program coordinator for ISTEAM. She previously worked as a middle school math and science teacher for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and as an educator for the American Indian Education Program in CPS.
Additional Streaming Media
Indigenous Water Pedagogies: Cultivating Relations Through the Reading of Water.
Occasional Paper Series,