The Four Corners Potato: A Story of Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Deep History, and Biology
I would like to present an overview of an interdisciplinary curriculum titled Indigenous Foods, which I developed for the Natural History Museum of Utah in partnership with the nonprofit Utah Diné Bikéyah. Weaving together indigenous knowledge, Utah history, archaeological findings, plant biology, and nutritional data, this curriculum shares the importance of indigenous food sovereignty through the story of a tiny, highly nutritious superfood called the Four Corners potato (Solanum jamesii). Over the past 5-10 years, University of Utah researchers, Lisbeth Lauderback (archaeologist) and Bruce Pavlik (botanist), have pieced together evidence from stone tool starch granules, plant genetics, and historical accounts to show that the Four Corners potato is the earliest known domesticated plant in the Western United States. Currently, these same researchers are working closely with Utah Tribes to reincorporate the Four Corners potato into indigenous communities with the hopes of restoring community health and traditional practices. In summary, this curriculum aims to show the importance of including different ways of knowing in science education, as well as to inspire others to learn about the incredible indigenous knowledge that exists within their own communities.
Takeaways: Weaving together indigenous food sovereignty, archaeological findings, and plant biology, this curriculum overview offers examples for how to include indigenous knowledge in science education.
Kirsten Walker (Waterford School: Sandy, UT)
Presenter Materials for this Session:
(Please login with your NSTA account to view the materials)
Indigenous Foods Curriculum Slideshow
Indigenous Foods Curriculum Overview