Building on a longstanding partnership with St. Francis Area Schools’ American Indian Education staff, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve developed learning resources and signage for the new MN Ecology Walk. The interpretive walk offers visitors an accessible way to learn about the state’s major ecosystems, while also providing exposure to indigenous language, science, and ways of knowing. This summer, two interns from St. Francis High School worked with Dakota and Anishinaabe elders to create signage and a trail guide with Native plant names alongside western common and scientific names. These materials include information about traditional and contemporary uses of the plants. They also designed, built, and filled a “little free library” structure with books that share indigenous perspectives on land and natural resources.
“This new trail is an opportunity to share some of the cultural and traditional practices that have taken place on these lands over time and to bring indigenous science and indigenous ways of knowing and learning into our western science community,” says Potter. “This is the kind of project that takes a village. Bringing in elders that have the knowledge—both of the cultural uses of the plants and the language—has been essential to making sure we share information in an accurate way.”
The project was funded with a 2022 CBS DEIJ microgrant.