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SE CASC to Provide Regional Expertise and Information Resources to New NSF Indigenous Science Hub Project

The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Bryan Newland, announced on August 3, 2022 that Haskell Indian Nations University, a Bureau of Indian Education-operated Tribal University in Lawrence, Kansas, is the recipient of a $20 million award from the National Science Foundation for an Indigenous science hub project. The funding is the largest NSF award to a Tribal college or university. SE CASC will provide regional expertise and information resources to Hub members and communities to use in hazard planning and assessments.

Aranzazu Lascurain in Swansboro, NC. Image by Brittany Salmons

SE CASC Assistant University Director, Aranzazu Lascurain, is a Working Group Lead for the Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences and was asked to participate in the grant to provide technical support for the Southeast region. “I wrote a letter of support and agreed to participate in their mentorship program because a big part of the grant is supporting tribal youth through mentorships and training,” said Lascurain when asked about her connection with the grant. Lascurain will also provide environmental conservation and resource planning support to the Changing Coasts hub and has the opportunity “to travel to Haskell Indian Nations University in September to meet with the group, plan next steps, and create regional sub teams.”

She emphasized that this award is the first of its kind and serves as an important model for the convergence of Indigenous Knowledges and Western science. Looking forward, Lascurain added that “this is an incredible opportunity to be part of a very large grant led by and for Indigenous communities across the United States. I have been fortunate enough to be part of it and to be very hands on with place-based work in coastal communities throughout the Southeast.”

The following news release comes from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and can also be viewed here.  

Haskell Indian Nations University Receives $20 Million National Science Foundation Research Award for Indigenous Science Hub Project

For Immediate Release: August 03, 2022

Funding is largest NSF award to a Tribal college or university

WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland today announced that Haskell Indian Nations University, a Bureau of Indian Education-operated Tribal University in Lawrence, Kansas, is the recipient of a $20 million award from the National Science Foundation for an Indigenous science hub project. Funded under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the award is for five years and is the largest research award ever granted by the NSF to a Tribal college or university.

The project will create The Large Scale CoPe: Rising Voices, Changing Coasts: The National Indigenous and Earth Sciences Convergence Hub, a space for the convergence of disciplines and epistemologies where Indigenous knowledge-holders from diverse coastal regions will work with university-trained social, ecosystem and physical Earth system scientists and students on transformative research to address coastal hazards in the contexts of their communities.

“The Rising Voices, Changing Coasts hub to be located at Haskell Indian Nations University is a tremendous step forward in supporting Tribal communities as they address challenges from a rapidly changing climate,” said Assistant Secretary Newland. “This is an exciting and much-needed opportunity for scientists and Indigenous knowledge keepers to collaborate on how Indigenous people in coastal areas can build resiliency to the dynamic forces resulting from climate change.”

The Rising Voices, Changing Coasts hub’s goals are to improve modeling and prediction of coastal processes to support decision-making by Indigenous communities, develop a framework for cross-cultural collaboration that can be adopted in the future, train the next generation of Indigenous researchers, and increase the infrastructure at Haskell needed to support future large research projects.

The hub will focus on place-based research in four regions: Alaska (Arctic), Louisiana (Gulf of Mexico), Hawai‘i (Pacific Islands), and Puerto Rico (Caribbean Islands). It will combine Indigenous knowledge, modeling capabilities, archeological records, geographic information system techniques, socio-economic analysis and hazards research. Together, these data, transdisciplinary analysis and convergent findings will enhance fundamental understanding of the interconnected physical, cultural, social and economic processes that result in coastal hazards and climate resilience opportunities, and increase the accuracy, relevance and usability of model predictions on multi-decadal timescales.

The Haskell Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit serving the university, secured the project’s funding. “This award is wonderful and critically important today,” said Haskell Foundation Director Aaron Hove. “It cements Haskell’s leadership role in Indigenous Climate Change research and demonstrates what a small institution can accomplish when it builds relationships with internationally known research institutions like the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Scripps Research Institute and large research universities.”

“This research hub is a significant part of the growing recognition that traditional ecological knowledges and Indigenous knowledges should be a part of the science that is being done today regarding global climate change,” noted Dr. Daniel R. Wildcat, Haskell faculty member and the hub’s lead investigator. “It is a game changer for Indigenous peoples. We have been advocating for years that we need a seat at the table in scientific discussions regarding climate. I think the funding for this hub allows Indigenous knowledge holders to build their own table and invite leading academic trained scientists to take a seat.”

In addition to Haskell Indian Nations University, as the lead institution, partners in the hub are: NCAR and its Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Working Group, and community partners in the four targeted regions.