Cosmic Serpent Home Page

Past Workshops

For detailed information on past workshops, please visit earlier volumes of the Cosmic Serpent Newsletter located in our Resource area.

Southwest (SW) Workshop
Spring 2009

The first full SW workshop was held in Santa Fe, NM in the spring of 2009. We held most of our meetings at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in South Santa Fe. It was an inspiring location and was where many of our most distinguished Native American artists have trained. We had a site visit to Poeh Museum, a tribal museum of the Pojoaque Pueblo. There we experienced break-out sessions on basket making and pottery making by renowned artists, who talked about their art and the science that could be understood in the plants and soils that were used to form the baskets and statues and pots. We learned how many Indigenous artists see their work as highly interconnected with the natural forces of a relational universe and how they gather and work with their materials in a way that promotes sustainable ecology.

Northwest (NW) Workshop
Summer, 2009

For this NW workshop, we recruited museum personnel from science centers, tribal museums, and cultural museums located primarily in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. This five days workshop (which started the evening of Sunday, August 23rd and ended at 1pm on Friday, August 28th) was held at Semiahmoo Resort near Blaine, Washington and at Northwest Indian College. The workshop was opened by Swinomish elders and cultural specialists Joe McCoy and Larry Campbell, of La Connor, WA. We continued with traditional Indigenous introductions and panels which explored the archetype of the cosmic serpent and examples of possible workshop outcomes in museum settings. We explored Indigenous ways of knowing and differences and similarities with western science. Break-out sessions deepened participants’ knowledge of the two ways of knowing the universe. Some break-out sessions focused on experiencing western science, presented by OMSI personnel Vicki Coats, Kyrie Kellett, Brett Kiser, and Lori Erikson. Some sessions went more deeply into Indigenous ways of knowing through direct observation and relational thinking.

California (CA) Workshop
Winter, 2010

The first California workshop began at noon on February 8. We met at the Barona Resort Convention Center on the Lakeside Pavilion and had a welcome and an outdoor dinner. Participants came from many areas in California from North to South, East to West. There was a large contingent of Hawaiians, most of whom represented the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo. The workshop was hosted by the Barona Culture Center and Museum. Meetings were held at the Barona Resort and at the Barona Tribal Museum. We had informal armchair discussions on the differences and similarities of western science and native ways of knowing, panel discussions, round table discussions and break-out sessions. Participants learned about Indigenous Navigation, Hawaiian wayfaring, Navajo and Hawaiian Astronomy, Southern California tribe's basket making and Mayan math. We had one day at Balboa Park in San Diego, where participants could visit various museums. We had several sessions at the Reuben Fleet Science Center, including one on interactive science activities and one on Navajo and Native Hawaiian astronomy, which took place in a portable planetarium with a Skyscan digital projector. Much informal discussion took place over the week and many relationships between western science museums, community collection-based museums, and tribal museums were developed.

Southwest (SW) Follow-Up Workshop
Spring, 2010

The first follow-up workshop took place in April, 2010. We met at El Monte Sagrado Hotel in Taos, NM, for 3-1/2 days. This was a retreat that brought together Cosmic Serpent Fellows who had attended the first SW workshop in Santa Fe, with the addition of several participants who were new to Cosmic Serpent. This workshop emphasized interactive sessions and time for CS Fellows to network together. Many of the museums had already begun working partnerships since the first Cosmic Serpent workshop, between science centers and tribal and community museums. There was an afternoon visit to Taos Pueblo and there were outdoors sessions which featured Hawaiian navigation and Pueblo (Zuni) explanations of the Golden Mean and other geometric features of ancestral Pueblo structures such as those found in Chaco Canyon. A half-day session featured the use of multiple intelligences as a way to encourage learning in museum settings. This session culminated with small groups creating interactive museum exhibits featuring western and Indigenous perspectives around such themes as moccasins, trees, astronomy, ecology and baskets. Break-out sessions were so popular that participants voted to hold them consecutively instead of concurrently. These sessions included chemical properties of clay juxtaposed with an Indigenous perspective on pottery (taught while the instructor, Clarence Cruz, was actually building a pot). Other sessions included the chemistry and the Navajo perspective of creating Navajo rug dyes from plants, and the science of making Navajo blue mush from corn and juniper ash. There was tremendous enthusiasm for carrying out the values of the Cosmic Serpent through networking with different museums in programming and building exhibits.

Northwest (NW) Follow-Up Workshop
Fall, 2010

This workshop took place at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks, Alaska. We had many returning Cosmic Serpent Fellows from the first NW workshop as well as some new faces. This workshop included a number of engaging presentations, including a virtual presentation by our partner, Laura Huerta-Migus, from the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), on the value of diversity, titled Science Centers: Awareness of Diversity. Ray Barnhardt, Professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, spoke on the Alaska Experience: Examples from the NSF Rural Systemic Initiative. A number of our participants also presented, including topics like Models for Museum Outreach – Climate Change in the NW, Tulalip Tribal Stewardship, and Alaska Sustainable Fishing. On the second day we had a Showcase of Collaboration which featured posters and informal discussions of various projects that focused on collaboration between traditional knowledge holders and scientists. We also heard from Dennis Martinez with his presentation on Restoring the Earth’s Balance: How Climate Change is Upsetting the Relationship of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air, and Indigenous Adaptation Responses. In the evening the group headed out to Poker Flats for a tour of the Aurora research facility. Hans Nielsen gave an informative talk on the science of the Northern Lights. On the third day the group visited two museums, the Museum of the North, on the UAF campus, and the other was a cultural/natural history museum developed by local Athabaskans, the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. On the final day, one of our evaluator’s, Jill Stein, led an Evaluation Focus Group in exercises designed to learn how participants experience the workshop.

California (CA) Follow-Up Workshop
Winter, 2011

The California Follow-up Workshop was held in Palm Springs at the Hyatt Regency Suites. We began the workshop with a welcome to the land, a local tribal greeting by traditional Bird Singers from the Agua Caliente and Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians. Again we had a nice mix of returning Cosmic Serpent Fellows and new members. There were a number of educational presentations by some of our participants as well as special guest speakers. Angela Hardin (Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria) gave a multi-media presentation on Acorn Mush. Angela presented entirely in her traditional Coast Miwok language, demonstrating the many implements she had brought with her. Chuck Striplen (Amah Mutsun Tribal Band), Associated Environmental Scientist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute, continued with Deepening Partnerships Through Cosmic Serpent: Telling the Story of Valley Oaks in the San Francisco Bay Area: Past, Present and Future – a public, private and tribal collaboration. We also heard a very engaging presentation by Dr. VerlieAnn Malina-Wright, Chairman of the Native Hawaiian Educational Council and former President of NIEA (National Indian Education Association), entitled Indigenous Science as Sovereign Science, which included many vivid examples from her Hawaiian homeland. As in other workshops, participants enjoyed the evening Armchair Dialogue, an informal discussion of western science and Indigenous ways of knowing. This was an opportunity for Cosmic Serpent Fellows to introduce issues of interest to them, and to discuss the issues from multiple perspectives. We were hosted at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, where we were welcomed by Director Michael Hammond and his staff, and were able to view their current exhibit on California baskets. On our final full day of this workshop, Dr. Lynn Morgan presented Multiple Ways of Knowing: Applying Diverse Ways of Knowing to Museum Settings, Reaching Diverse Audiences. After learning about Multiple Ways of Knowing, participants were seated in small groups at the round tables. Each group developed a prototype museum exhibit using diverse ways of knowing. Topics were varied and creative, and often humorous.

Culminating Conference
Spring, 2011

The goals of this conference were: (1) for Cosmic Serpent Fellows from all three regions (Southwest, Northwest, California-Hawaii) to have an opportunity to share with one another their accomplishments and work related to collaborations between Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science in museum settings; (2) for non-Cosmic Serpent Fellows to have a chance to learn from Cosmic Serpent Fellows and to share their own work related to the collaborations between Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science in educational settings; (3) for all conference attendees to learn more about Indigenous Ways of Knowing through keynote presentations from experts in the field.