New documentary by Dr. Margaret Hiza Redsteer combines traditional knowledge and science

SACNAS Life member Dr. Margaret Hiza Redsteer (Crow) is one of the executive producers for a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) documentary entitled “A Record of Change—Science and Elder Observations on the Navajo Nation.” The film is about collaborative studies using conventional physical sciences, combined with tribal elder observations to show that local knowledge and conventional science partnerships can effectively document ecosystem change and determine the resulting challenges to livelihoods.

Sparse historic data on tribal lands make the assessment of changes to ecosystem services difficult. This video reveals how a team of scientists, anthropologists, and translators combined the rich local knowledge of Navajo elders with recent scientific investigations to effectively document environmental change, and find ways to adapt. Increasing aridity and declining snowfall in this poorly monitored region of the Southwest are accompanied by declining river flow and migrating sand dunes. The observations of Navajo elders verify and supplement this record of change by informing how shifting weather patterns are reflected in Navajo cultural practices and living conditions.

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Dr. Margaret Hiza Redsteer is a Research Scientist for the U.S. Department of the Interior and USGS based in the Flagstaff Science Center. She works on water issues for the Navajo Nation and has melded scientific data with traditional knowledge to discover the ties between these problems and climate change.

Watch her 2011 SACNAS keynote

Read more about Dr. Redsteer’s work in STEM + Culture Chronicle.


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