University of Redlands

'Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge, Shared Science' exhibition in Armacost Library

Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge, Shared Science—a Smithsonian traveling exhibition that explores the ways in which traditional knowledge of Indigenous communities and cutting-edge Western science are being applied—is now open to the public in the Armacost Library lobby at the University of Redlands through February 27, 2022.

The free exhibit explores four inspiring stories of environmental and cultural restoration from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Tulalip Tribes, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Native Hawaiians—giving visitors examples of how traditional knowledge and Western science provide complementary solutions to ecological and health challenges. These stories reflect the sacred relationship that each community has with its homeland and passes along knowledge of the environment, history, social values, and spiritual beliefs. 


“The Roots of Wisdom exhibit is an important opportunity for the University of Redlands community to learn about modern-day Native scientific and cultural advances from across the United States,” said Elizabeth Shulterbrandt, assistant director of Native Student Programs at U of R.  “Our Native students and San Manuel scholars can take pride in seeing achievements from their own, and other, Native Nations. It also allows Redlands faculty to incorporate the exhibit into their classrooms, providing a critical and diverse perspective that may have not been there otherwise.” 

U of R Librarian Shana Higgins said she learned about one element of the exhibit from faculty during the opening reception. “In one section of the Roots of Wisdom exhibit we learn about biopiracy, the taking of traditional knowledge and natural resources from Native people without permission or compensation,” Higgins said. “Dr. Larry Gross, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Endowed Chair of Native American Studies at U of R, explained his research of biopiracy in relation to the cultivation of wild rice and Anishinaabeg communities, and how sustainable cultivation of food necessitates partnering with Native communities who have through generations learned to live with the land rather than take from the land.”


Hosted by U of R's Native Student Programs and the Armacost Library, the Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge, Shared Science exhibit is the product of a collaboration among the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), the Indigenous Education Institute (IEI), the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the four Native partner communities highlighted in the exhibition, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. The exhibition was made possible with funds provided by the National Science Foundation.