Of Pipelines and Rivers: Science and Indigenous Ways.
Vol. 1, No. 1, January 2015

Of Pipelines and Rivers: Science and Indigenous Ways

Dawn Hill Adams, Ph.D.

Tapestry Institute Occasional Papers, Volume 1, Number 1.

January 29, 2015

To cite this article:  Adams, Dawn Hill. 2015. Of pipelines and rivers: science and Indigenous ways. Tapestry Institute Occasional Papers, 1(1). http://tapestryinstitute.org/occasional-papers/of-pipelines-and-rivers-science-and-indigenous-ways-vol-1-no-1-january-2015

Introduction to the Pipeline Metaphor for Science Education

A metaphor carries more cultural significance and greater meaning than first meets the eye. Casual acceptance and use of a metaphor reinforces the package of beliefs and values that come with it, even if we don’t realize that’s happening. Metaphor is, after all, more than mere simile. It’s one of the things that makes story so powerful that advertisers, politicians, and Hollywood moguls have ridden it to wealth and power for generations.

The metaphor used for science education is a pipeline. The term was chosen to represent a system that takes in students at one end and delivers fully-fledged scientists out the other. Most of the federally-funded education programs designed to increase the participation of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – called the STEM fields[1] — focus on figuring out (a) how to increase the numbers of students who come into the pipeline to begin with, and (b) how to keep them from “leaking” out of the pipeline before they are delivered to research institutions at the other end as degreed professionals.[2] A number of federally-funded initiatives in STEM education therefore specifically aim to increase the numbers of Indigenous students who enter the STEM pipeline and to keep those in the pipeline already from quitting, failing, or changing their career field at any time before retirement.[3]

Because the dominant culture in which we all live is marked by dualistic either/or thinking, and because I am about to critique the pipeline metaphor approach to STEM education, it’s important to state here and now that I have nothing against science as either a process or a career. I am myself a scientist, and I love many of the processes, ideas, and insights that come from studying and thinking about the natural world through fields such as evolutionary theory, astrophysics, and geomorphology. But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with all the things that are done under the banner of Science. Nor does it mean I have to blindly accept the agenda that some in the scientific community pursue with respect to targeting Indigenous persons, women, African Americans, and other “underrepresented groups” as suitable fodder for the pipeline that will deliver them to careers in STEM fields. In fact, after I deconstruct the STEM education pipeline metaphor, I will come back to the value that science education has for our students, our communities, and our lands. But I will argue that it’s a value that requires a wholly different metaphor, and that this metaphor provides insight into very different models of science education.

Structure and Function of Pipelines

A pipeline is a closed tube, usually quite long, that carries a physical material such as water, oil, or natural gas from one location to another. The STEM education pipeline delivers human beings to research institutions that provide careers in STEM fields. At one end, it takes in young people between the ages of 10 or 12 years old and about 20 years old (basically, between middle school and mid-undergraduate age). At the other it delivers them to research institutions that hire successful graduates for careers in science, engineering, mathematics, or technology. The age of intake varies by discipline, but all STEM fields focus on promoting an academic infrastructure (e.g. adequate access to algebra classes in middle school and calculus in high school) that makes sure eligible students don’t miss their intake opportunity. There is also a common emphasis in STEM fields on understanding why students “leak out of” the pipeline by quitting their science and math studies, changing to non-STEM majors once they’re in college, quitting their graduate degree programs, or pursuing careers in non-STEM fields once they have their degrees. The “pipeline” metaphor communicates a lot of important information to educators, policy-makers, and teachers, which is why it’s so frequently used.

Hoover Dam 1935

Upstream side of Hoover Dam under construction in 1935. Click image to visit original source.

Pipelines can be very productive structures. In 1958 my family moved to a suburb of Phoenix. At that time in history, the population of Arizona was still so small that the town I lived in was separated from all the other cities and towns in the Valley of the Sun by orange groves, acres of date palms, and large areas of desert that still supported mature saguaro cacti. Residents, agriculture, and industry all thrived in that location because of water brought in via the Central Arizona Project, a monumental system of dams and pipelines that had been started before WWII. As Arizona’s population grew, the CAP grew with it. The most significant source of water for the CAP is the Colorado River. At its nearest, the Colorado River is 150 miles from Phoenix (at Blythe, California), but most of the CAP intake water is from the border region between Arizona and Nevada, 300 miles away. Water from the dams that support the CAP also flows to southern California through similar delivery systems. The system of dams and pipes that constitute the CAP dwarfed other engineering projects in the U.S. at the time they were first built, and the system continues to be impressively large. Today it delivers a million and a half acre-feet of water per year to the major metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson.[4]


Pre-stressed concrete pipe from the Central Arizona Project. From the engineering firm website exponent.com.

As a result, the Colorado River no longer reaches the sea. All its water has been diverted to the large urban areas of California and Arizona, as well as cities and communities in five other states, for purposes of household, agricultural, and industrial use[5].

Consequences of Pipelines

Colo River delta approximation

The Colorado River delta, estuary, and wetlands looked much like this when Aldo Leopold saw it in 1922. Click image to visit original site.

In 1922, before the Colorado River was dammed, Aldo Leopold described the rich ecosystems and wheeling flocks of shorebirds he saw on a camping trip to its estuary, delta, and associated wetlands. He vowed he would never return to the place because he could not face the changes that even then threatened its wild and fertile beauty[6]. The delta’s richness had been built by sediments plucked from the river’s course through the Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon, and the canyons of tributaries farther north. Many of those canyons were dammed in the 1930s and 1940s, and plans to dam even the Grand Canyon itself were still being considered as late as 1968[7]. The sediments and nutrients that once nourished the downstream river system now pile up behind pipe and turbine intake structures that must be cleaned and dredged as part of normal dam maintenance. At the same time, southern flow of the Colorado River has been reduced to 5% of historic levels because of water impounding and diversion to urban areas. Before that remaining 5% can reach the Gulf of California, it evaporates or sinks into the desert[8].

Hoover Dam site

1904 photo of the site on the river where Hoover Dam was eventually built. Click image to visit original site.

The CAP delivers water to places and people who need it, but in the process it also takes water away from places deemed expendable. And it does this even though the result is literally the death of the “expendable” system at the intake end of the pipeline. A pipeline therefore judges the relative values of the things at both ends of its system. In the case of the Central Arizona Project, diversion of water through its pipeline renders a value judgment on the Colorado River ecosystem on the intake end and also on the urban population centers at the delivery end. In the process, however inadvertently, it imposes and executes a sentence of death to systems on the intake end – and of life to those deemed worthy of receiving the delivered water in Phoenix and Tucson. The judgment and its outcomes may not be intentional, but they are nevertheless real. The river dies so the cities can live, and the process is not voluntary on the river’s part.

"Fifty miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Colorado River Delta and its once-rich estuary wetlands – reduced by 95 percent since the river was restricted by dams – are now as parched as the surrounding Sonoran Desert. From Chasing Water, a book by Pete McBride." Click image to visit original site.

“Fifty miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Colorado River Delta and its once-rich estuary wetlands – reduced by 95 percent since the river was restricted by dams – are now as parched as the surrounding Sonoran Desert. From Chasing Water, a book by Pete McBride.” Click image to visit original site.

Indigenous peoples and communities have been at the intake point for a number of pipelines that were designed to send resources to urban population centers. Colonial expansion of European nations into the Americas, India, Africa, and the Pacific was driven by a need for resources to support populations that were no longer locally sustainable. Then, as now, those who could mediate the transport of goods through the pipeline turned a profit that made the effort attractive enough to encourage risk-taking. So even though Spanish exploration of what is now New Mexico was initially motivated by the search for gold, settlement and colonization were geared towards sending ever-growing streams of leather, corn, and other basic commodities home to Spain.

One of the first things the Spanish missionaries to Pecos Pueblo noticed was that the leather hides traded by the Comanches to the Pecos community for agricultural foodstuffs were of a quality unknown to Europeans of that time. They reported with genuine wonder that the leather of these hides remained pliable and soft regardless of age and even if they got wet. Unable to learn the secrets of the tanning process, colonial government officials focused instead on gathering more and more of the hides as part of the tribute the Indians paid to the government. Fray Andrés Varo wrote that “Pueblo Indian weaving, buffalo hides, and the soft tanned animal skin became ‘the principal object and attraction of the governors. They are the rich mines of this kingdom.’”[9] In fact, the levies on not only hides but on corn and basic foods produced by the local Indians was so heavy that it caused suffering and privation that eventually inspired the Padres to file complaints with the local government – though to no avail. The pipeline in this case was made of burro trains, oxcarts, and sailing ships, and it transported corn, hides, and other commodities taken from the Pueblo Indians to Spanish consumers and traders. And, as in the case of water and the CAP, the communities at the intake were judged as expendable while the cities and coffers of Spain at the delivery end were judged worthy of living even if it caused suffering and death at the other end of the system.

The STEM Pipeline and Indigenous Communities

The STEM pipeline intakes Indigenous youth from tribal high schools and colleges. A number of organizations engage in outreach through special afterschool programs, science fairs, and technology competitions to increase the volume of intake at those locations. Much of the focus on increasing parity of educational opportunity in Indigenous schools focuses on making sure that appropriately rigorous courses in math and science are available in tribal classrooms to the same degree they’re available in public schools of non-tribal areas, and that students take and pass them so they’re able to gain college admission and enter math, science, technology, and engineering majors. On the other end of the STEM pipeline, students are delivered to the industry, government, and university research labs that need degreed STEM professionals to fill their workforce requirements.

The language that federal science agencies use to explain why the STEM pipeline is important disturbingly reinforces the image of colonial commodity transfer seen in the flow of tributes from the Pueblos to Spain, and of materials from European colonies worldwide to the urban populations of England, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal that were no longer sustainable as early as the 16th century. During WWII, the report Science and Public Policy stated quite clearly: “Under present conditions, the ceiling on research and development activities is fixed by the availability of trained personnel, rather than the amounts of money available. The limiting resource at the moment is manpower.”[10] “Manpower” is therefore an economic resource, by definition. And we see here that as early as the mid-1940s it was already seen as a resource in critically short supply. The National Science Foundation was founded in 1950 in part to provide a national strategic science education plan that would increase the numbers of Americans going into research and technology careers.[11]

The term “manpower” has fallen out of favor at NSF for obvious reasons, so today the same issue is discussed using the term “human capital.” Notice the significance of the term capital, which is not metaphor. The underlying need described is shortage of a resource — of trained scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technologists – that is essential to the American economy. When an NSF publication addresses the need to “enhance diversity” in the STEM workforce, therefore, it’s the need for more trained personnel and the pool of untapped minority individuals and women who can fill those positions that drives both policy and rhetoric. The National Science Foundation Strategic Plan for 2014 – 2018, for example, states (italics added for emphasis):

“The global competitiveness of the United States in the 21st century depends directly on the readiness of the Nation’s STEM workforce. Educational institutions around the country must recruit, train, and prepare a diverse STEM workforce to advance the frontiers of science and participate in the U.S. technology-based economy. . . The demographic evolution in the United States is reflected in a strong, growing workforce whose makeup is changing rapidly. Women and members of minority groups represent an expanding portion of the country’s potential intellectual capital. NSF is committed to increasing access for currently underrepresented groups to STEM education and careers through our investments in research and education. The resulting enhancement of diversity is essential to provide the strength that comes from diverse perspectives, as well as to assure development of the Nation’s intellectual capital.”[12]

Parallels between the economic and resource needs (a) that inform NSF’s science education policy statements, (b) that motivated Spanish colonization of the New World Pueblos, and (c) that led to development of the Central Arizona Project are no coincidence. Pipelines deliver materials from sources to consumers. It may be unpleasant to think of Indigenous high school students being seen as “resources” for the consumer economy of Western culture . . . but the statement cited above and others like that fill federal science education documents show very clearly that the STEM pipeline metaphor is an expression of actual relationship between natural resources and consumers. Further, as in the case of the colonial Spanish pipeline and the Central Arizona Project pipeline, the STEM pipeline inherently values the delivery/consumer end of the system as more meaningful and important than the intake/resource end.

It is important here to point out that at least most of the people in science policy and education who use the pipeline metaphor don’t consciously intend to imply that such an economic relationship does or should exist. They also don’t intend to devalue the people and communities on the resource side or suggest they are expendable in order to satisfy needs on the consumer side. I am in fact fairly certain that most of these people are blithely unaware of the colonialist values embedded in the pipeline model. They simply see STEM research as such a universal “Good” that they don’t realize they’ve privileged its value as being actually (ontologically) higher than the value of the people and communities at the intake point.[13]

It’s also important to reiterate that I am not suggesting science or STEM education and careers are of no importance. In fact, many tribes are increasingly eager to hire Indigenous persons with science and technology degrees who can help Native communities monitor natural resources, make land use decisions, and develop technological infrastructures that deliver better health care and education to their people. But these situations differ in a significant way from the pipeline examples we’ve just looked at because the intake and delivery points are in the same community. It’s as if the waters of the CAP passed through Phoenix and Tucson and then were carried back to the Colorado River, or as if a stream of tribute corn returned to the Pueblos from Spain and was available to feed the people who’d originally been forced to give it up.

A pipeline is so inherently a one-way system of transport that it’s nonsensical to imagine water being returned from Phoenix to the Colorado River, or corn from Spain back to the Pueblos. Those scenarios demonstrate that the pipeline metaphor does not apply to a system in which degreed Indigenous scientists come home to serve their communities. This is a real difference, not a symbolic one, because these people will contribute to the economies of Indigenous nations and communities rather than to the larger US government or corporate economies.[14] So Indigenous scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians who go home to tribal communities to pursue their careers fall outside the strategic initiatives that motivate the federal government to provide STEM education to Indigenous students to begin with. The pipeline metaphor literally does not fit.

The search for a more appropriate metaphor for Indigenous STEM education must start with Indigenous values. Among the most important of these are reciprocity and relationship.[15] A transport system for water that values relationship and reciprocity is not a pipeline. It’s a river.

The River Metaphor for Indigenous STEM Education

A pipeline is a closed system, separated from the natural world. It is artificial. Priority is placed on delivering as much as possible of what comes into the pipeline at the intake point to the delivery point, so there should be no leaks. The pipeline is therefore sealed in a way that keeps water in and, at the same time, the natural world out. Birds, fish, crawdads, watercress, algae, and insects do not aggregate within pipelines to create pipeline ecosystems. When pipelines leak and local habitats bloom in the desert through which the CAP pipe passes, for example, repair crews quickly find and fix the leak to increase the efficiency of transport. Pipelines can be made of several different kinds of impermeable materials and can be of varying diameters. But they all deliver water from intake to delivery point in a unilinear process of transport that’s completely isolated from the surrounding community to ensure the highest possible volume of delivery. Any water that leaks out along the way is considered to have been wasted.

Rivers are open systems, vital parts of natural landscapes. They vary from bubbling mountain streams to the deep and wide rivers of Eastern woodlands, and from the braided channels of glacial outwash plains to the intermittently flowing washes of deserts. A river’s characteristics depend on local substrate, regional climate, proximity to the ocean, slope gradient, age, and geologic features such as fault lines and erosion that can impact its path across the landscape. Plants, birds, mammals, insects, and other animals interact with the river all along its course in a series of ecosystems that grade into one another with changes in elevation, substrate, and climate. Some of the water in any river engages with what’s around it, leaving the river’s flow to become part of the plants and animals in the forests, prairies, or deserts through which the river passes. Such interactions impact the river’s water as well, filtering suspended sediments, changing water chemistry, and even altering the river’s speed and pattern of flow. The river and the lands through which they pass have a reciprocal relationship in which they are mutually engaged in ways that benefit both. Some of the water in the river travels all the way to the ocean. Once there it becomes part of a different natural ecosystem. Eventually the water is evaporated by solar energy and rises into the atmosphere to condense into clouds. And of course these clouds then blow inland to drop rain back onto the lands the water came from to begin with.

The Colorado River as it once was, flowing through canyon and desert to a fertile delta teaming with life, and then finally to the sea — unimpeded and unconstrained – is an appropriate metaphor for Indigenous STEM education. Some Indigenous science students do indeed go “all the way” to the larger ocean of careers in industry, government, or university research labs. But many stop along the way to interact with and become vitally important parts of local communities in reciprocal relationships that both give and receive. The natural flow of students through such a system varies depending on local conditions; eddies, cross-channels, ox-bow lakes, and waterfalls all exist in different places for different people. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is no inherent Indigenous cultural “goal” of delivering all STEM students to the destination sea of careers in industry, government, or university research. Rivers do not have directional goals but are simply natural phenomena that come into existence when conditions are right to produce flowing water on a landscape. They are one natural expression (among many) of the ecosystems of which they are a part. Similarly, the River metaphor for Indigenous STEM education depicts it as what it really is in our communities: a natural expression of the Indigenous cultures of which their participant students are a part.

Comparing the Consequences of River and Pipeline Metaphors for Indigenous STEM Education

Indigenous communities have not, traditionally, trusted the systems of science education that intake Indigenous youth and attempt to deliver them to the consumer economy that is such a powerful driver of Western culture. They see the pipeline very clearly even if they’ve never read an NSF document that uses the term. They know the pipeline is built to be impermeable and they understand at a very deep level that their young people will come home again only if they are deemed “failures” – a lost and wasted resource — by the system that diverted them through its floodgates to begin with.

Yet tribes increasingly need the services of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians who understand and operate within Indigenous worldview and, more importantly, who recognize and uphold Indigenous values. In the absence of Indigenous persons in STEM careers, tribes are forced to rely on consultants from government agencies, environmental organizations, and private industry – almost all of whom see the world through the eyes and value systems of Western culture. Very few of these consultants understand the concept of reciprocity, and even fewer are able to carry out research and implement results in ways that foster and honor reciprocity. But if we can create a River system of Indigenous STEM education to replace the pipeline system, it’s possible to change the balance of values and power on tribal lands. In the process, it’s possible to change the way tribal communities see Indigeous scientists, and to improve the ways tribes recognize and support students who go to college to pursue training in STEM fields.

Changing the System from Pipeline to River

Dammed and diverted rivers can be restored. The Quechan tribe near Yuma has collaborated with government agencies, local businesses and farmers to so far restore more than 400 acres of Colorado River habitat in the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area.[16] A similar coalition of government and environmental agencies has responded to tribal concerns about dwindling salmon populations along the dammed Elwha River in Olympic National Park by dismantling two dams to restore the river’s natural flow in “the largest dam removal in history.”[17],[18] If the dams and intake structures that impound water and divert it into pipelines are removed, rivers return to their natural ways. Indigenous STEM education can be restored, too.

To begin with, we have to stop using the term “pipeline” to refer to Indigenous persons investigating or participating in STEM learning and careers. We simply have to demolish that lexical dam because the metaphor expresses a practice of education based in colonialist value systems. Tribal communities are right to distrust a system that drains Native youth from their communities and delivers them to mainstream American research organizations that need “manpower resources” they cannot otherwise satisfy. The STEM pipeline system is an actual, operating holdover of colonial values and practices. It is not mere simile.

Second, we can begin to envision what a STEM River education system would look like. Here are three initial areas of impact that changing the metaphor could have on the ways we think about teaching science, engineering, mathematics, and technology to Indigenous students. In each case, we use the metaphor of a river to reflect on and understand the ways an Indigenous learner might move through a system of STEM education and career practice.

  1. The way any Indigenous individual “behaves” in a STEM field will be deeply influenced by the region and community of their origin, which means the one-way, one-size-fits-all flow of Indigenous students through high school, college, and university programs of education must become individualized and diverse. Students may matriculate at 17 or at 60. They may decide they need to take calculus only once they are in their 40s and have taken enough coursework to realize stream hydraulics is what will help them understand how and why off-reservation mining is changing stream flow back home and what might be done to protect tribal rivers. Indigenous STEM students must be allowed to express the unique situations from which their own lives flow without judgment or penalty.
  2. The ways that Indigenous individuals in STEM fields ask questions, approach the process of acquiring information from the natural world, process the information they acquire, generate conclusions, and use what they learn to interact with others will also be deeply influenced by the region and community of their origin. Acceptance of Indigenous Research Methods by the scientific education and research communities, as well as by government regulatory and policy-making agencies, is a particularly important part of the River metaphor for Indigenous STEM practice[19].
  3. Indigenous STEM students must not be seen as human capital, intellectual or otherwise, whose highest and best purpose is to “help drive the American economy.”[20] Instead, Indigenous science, mathematics, technology, and engineering students and professionals must be understood in terms of their own value systems. By and large, these values will center on the processes of reciprocity and relationship – to the part of the natural world being studied, to the processes of learning and research, and to the natural and cultural communities of which these people are integral parts. This means that some individuals will take only a few botany classes before going home to use the knowledge they’ve acquired to enhance their traditional practices of botanical healing. Others will come into a forest management course only to realize they need botany knowledge they don’t yet have, take the classes that allow them to understand forest ecology, go on to take additional coursework in terrestrial ecology and environmental science, and then go home with a Bachelor’s degree that allows them to play a pivotal role in tribal forest management. Still other individuals will develop an interest in physics or chemistry while in high school and, carried by the natural flow of life within themselves, go through a standard sequence of college programs that culminates in the awarding of a doctorate. Some of those PhDs may go on to work in academia, industry, or national research labs. But others may teach, mentor, and do research in tribal colleges.  And still others may go to work as researchers or policy-makers for tribal governments, or form consulting firms that work with tribal governments. All these alternative pathways must be accepted as natural expressions of Indigenous STEM education.

Looking at these basic examples of how a River metaphor for Indigenous STEM education and practice might impact the ways that Indigenous persons engage with the academic community highlights the rigidity of existing college and university curricula and majors. Few state institutions are willing to admit middle-aged students who simply want to take a science course or two to help them in their work. University programs of “continuing education” are exceptions, but their science offerings are largely not content-rich or rigorous. College and university systems are designed around a degree-granting model of Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral requirements that consist of highly specific course sequences based on a system of prerequisites. Further, funding to support education at these institutions, whether through loans or scholarships, is likewise geared around degree programs.

Some tribal colleges provide important opportunities for one- or two-class STEM education options, and for the participation of so-called “alternative students” who are older, who lack certain prerequisites, or who are not interested in taking core curriculum requirements in, for example, the humanities. But such programs and the students who use them are not “counted” as valid STEM education experiences by federal and state agencies. They should be. They are an extremely important part of engaging tribal peoples in STEM learning. A River model of STEM education and practice values this kind of learning. Such valuation — and the changes in academic programming that would allow more people to participate in this kind of learning more easily — would encourage more Indigenous people to participate in programs of STEM education.

However, the pipeline metaphor for STEM education itself makes such change difficult to impossible to implement. Tribal colleges do not get federal grant funds to increase participation by “non-traditional” students or to develop programs and curricula that serve them. The flow of federal and state financial incentives and material resources that keep tribal colleges alive and healthy promote and reward STEM education programs that recruit students into STEM fields (intake point), increase their retention rates (prevent leaks), and increase their 4-year graduate rates with subsequent movement into graduate STEM programs or STEM careers (delivery point). The pipeline metaphor does not merely represent STEM education in tribal colleges; it determines the structure and function of STEM education in tribal colleges.

Envisioning a system of STEM education based on a River instead of a pipeline is clearly challenging. It requires collective, creative discussion and imagination. Dismantling the obstacles that presently constrain STEM education so it can flow freely enough for a River system of education to begin flowing again is even more daunting. But if dams can be removed from Washington’s rivers so that the salmon can go home, we should be able to work together to accomplish this vitally important task of removing the structures that block the natural flow of Indigenous learning.


[1] STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It was originally used in documents on science education by the National Science Foundation and is now in wide use by all federal and state agencies that deal with education in these fields, as well as many public school systems. As an interesting historical sidelight, the first acronym NSF put into play for this professional track was SMET (science, mathematics, engineering, and technology) – a word that when pronounced has somewhat distasteful overtones. Of course, STEM is pronounced in a way that carries its own overtones – in this case of living and growing things that bear branches, leaves, and fruit or grains. It’s perhaps one of the more successfully metaphorical acronyms the federal government has ever produced.

[2] See, as just one of many examples, NSF Discovery article “Making Stars: Astronomy program provides tools, support to enhance diversity.” Ivy F. Kupec. October 7, 2014. http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=132925&org=NSF. Accessed 1.27.15.

[3] See, for example, the “Lighting the Pathways” program being offered by AISES, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, which is funded by NSF. “This summer AISES was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Entitled the Lighting the Pathway to Faculty Careers for Natives in STEM program, it aims to boost the number of AISES members in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The long term goal of the project is to increase the number of members who pursue faculty positions in STEM disciplines at United States colleges and universities.” Description of the project is available online at http://www.aises.org/programs/college. Accessed 1.27.15.

[4] Central Arizona Project website homepage. Available at http://www.cap-az.com. Accessed 1.27.15.

[5] Colorado River Water Users Association Webpage. Available at http://www.crwua.org. Accessed 1.27.15.

[6] What’s Left of the Colorado. UW-Madison Center for Limnology. Available online at limnology.wisc.edu/blog/the-year-of-the-flood-can-we-bring-the-colorado-river-delta-back. Accessed 1.27.15

[7] “Bridge Canyon Dam.” J. Neil Murdock. from Early History of the Colorado River Storage Project May 1971 U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. Reprinted in BQR, Winter 1996-1997. Available online at http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/10-1/bcd.html. Accessed 1.27.15. See also an excellent review of the history of the proposed Bridge Canyon Dam available at Wikipedia on 1.27.15 (though the article content is dynamic rather than static and therefore subject to change), at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_Canyon_Dam . I lived in Arizona at the time this dam project was finally (though its adherents said “temporarily”) shelved and can vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in this particular Wikipedia entry.

[8] Chasing Water, a Photo Journal by Pete McBride, based on his book by the same name.  National Geographic website. Feb. 1, 2012. Available online at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/visions/field-test/chasing-water. Accessed 1.27.15.

[9] Kiva, Cross, and Crown:  The Pecos Indians and New Mexico 1540-1840. John L. Kessell. Washington DC: National Park Service, US Department of the Interior. 1979. p. 320. See also an explanation of  the tributary system, in which “The number of units, or piezas, was equivalent to the number of indios tributarios, that is, heads of household” on p. 188.

[10] Steelman, J. R. 1947. Science and Public Policy. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Reprinted 1980. New York: Arno Press.  p. 15. Cited on the NSF website at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind00/c6/c6s2.htm. Accessed 1.27.15

[11] “The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 ‘to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense . . . Specifically, the Foundation’s organic legislation authorizes us to engage in the following activities: A. Initiate and support, through grants and contracts, scientific and engineering research and programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research potential, and education programs at all levels, and appraise the impact of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.’” “NSF at a Glance” available at http://www.nsf.gov/about/glance.jsp. Accessed 1.27.15. Italics added for emphasis.

[12] “Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the Nation’s Future – National Science Foundation Strategic Plan for 2014-2018.” March 10, 2014. Document Number: nsf14043. Available for download at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf14043. Accessed 1.27.15. Italics added to the cited passage by the author for emphasis.

[13] Another reason Western scientists and policy makers don’t recognize the colonialist overtones of the pipeline model is that it was initially developed for application to American students who were primarily white and male. That is, in becoming scientists rather than grocers or assembly line workers, they were not changing from one cultural value system to another. The torrent of scholarship on “the culture of science” that marked the last half of the 20th century explored ways in which this “common culture” assumption may or may not be true. Numerous scholars in philosophy of science and particularly in feminist science have delineated a “culture of science” by documenting its perception in various subpopulations of the United States. In general, differences between “the culture of science” and women, African Americans, blue-collar workers, and others are seen as responsible for decreasing interest in science and math among American school children and the consequent shortage of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technologists. However, these are generally “micro-cultural differences” compared to those between Indigenous persons and those in mainstream American culture. Further, the socio-political history of U.S.-tribal relationships increases the size of the “cultural divide” between Indigenous persons and Western science.

[14] It can be argued that improving the economic conditions of tribal communities eventually contributes to improvements in the larger U.S. economy. But it’s important to remember that industry, government, and academic research facilities produce goods and services that flow directly into American agricultural, industrial, and military applications. They are seen as making the U.S. more competitive in the world market and more secure with respect to foreign powers. NSF’s mission statement therefore reads: “The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 ‘to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.” By comparison, tribal research initiatives tend to advance tribal health, prosperity, and welfare. It’s a different goal. (Citation from “NSF at a Glance” available at http://www.nsf.gov/about/glance.jsp. Accessed 1.27.15.)

[15] Indigenous persons know what these terms mean. Explanations can be found in Shawn Wilson, Research As Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods (Fernwood Publishing Co., Ltd., 2009) and Greg Cajete, Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence (Clear Light Publishers, 1999).

[16] Saving America’s Nile: How the Quechan Are Rehabbing the Colorado River.” Lee Allen. Indian Country Today, May 16, 2014. Available online at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/05/16/tribal-transformation-quechan-help-bring-lower-colorado-river-habitat-back-life-154899. Accessed 1.27.15.

[17] Facebook Page for Elwha River Restoration: Government Organization. “And then it was gone . . . Timelapse of the removal of Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River in Olympic National Park. The largest dam removal in history is complete.” September 16, 2014. Available online at https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=830230780355635&set=vb.116387105073343&type=2&theater. Accessed 1.27.15.

[18] “In Washington, Demolishing Two Dams So the Salmon May Go Home.” Richard Walker. Indian Country Today. September 22, 2011. Available online at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/09/22/washington-demolishing-two-dams-so-salmon-may-go-home-55128. Accessed 1.27.15.

[19] For an introduction to Indigenous Research Methods, see (for example) the website of the American Indigenous Research Association at http://americanindigenousresearchassociation.org. A bibliography of scholarly resources at http://americanindigenousresearchassociation.org/links/bibliography is particularly pertinent.

[20] “Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the Nation’s Future – National Science Foundation Strategic Plan for 2014-2018.” Op. cit.