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Opens October 7, 2023

Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science.

Overcoming centuries of environmental and cultural challenges can make for unexpected partnerships that result in extraordinary outcomes. In Roots of Wisdom, stories from four indigenous communities are brought to life in real-world examples of how traditional knowledge and cutting-edge Western science can be blended together to provide complementary solutions to contemporary concerns.

From restoring ecosystems to rediscovering traditional foods and crafts, the exhibit invites guests to understand the important issues that indigenous cultures face, discover innovative ways native peoples are problem-solving and contributing to the growing movement towards sustainability and the reclamation of age-old practices.

On view at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) from October 7, 2023 – March 3, 2024, Roots of Wisdom provides examples of how traditional knowledge and Western science together create complementary solutions to contemporary concerns.

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About Roots of Wisdom

Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge, Shared Science. was produced and is toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). The exhibit was developed by the following groups and made possible with funds provided by the National Science Foundation.

  • The Indigenous Education Institute (IEI)
  • The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)
  • The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
  • Tulalip Tribes
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • The Waikalua Loko Fishpond Preservation Society in Hawaii

Exhibit Features

Two people explore wooden stream building activity.

Saving Streams and Wildlife

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
The native river lamprey has long sustained peoples of the Columbia River in the Northwest. Catch one of these ancient fish from the waterfall and learn about this species’ traits and traditional uses.

Two people standing to the let of a green activity board.

Restoring Fish Ponds

Native Hawaiians
Help restore a Hawaiian fish pond and learn how this traditional form of aquaculture could contribute to a sustainable future for the people of Hawaii.

People interacting with various drawings of plants.

Rediscovering Traditional Foods

Tulalip Tribes
Stop by a Tulalip garden and learn native techniques for growing and gathering food, along with nutritional information about the plants.

A woven basket on display.

Re-establishing a Native Plant

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Learn how the Cherokee use native river cane to weave baskets and other useful technologies while weaving your own patterns and viewing the work of Cherokee artisans.

Educational Activity Kit

Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science. Activity Kit

Roots of Wisdom Activity Kit

Educators are welcome to download and use this Educational Activity Guide created by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in collaboration with the Indigenous Education Institute (IEI), the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), native community elders, educators, and youth for use in classrooms and other educational spaces.

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