Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science
Interconnected and Urgent Research Areas
Supported by the National Science Foundation's Science and Technology Centers Program, the Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science (CBIKS) will examine how to effectively and ethically braid Western and Indigenous science research, education, and practice related to the urgent and interconnected challenges of climate change, cultural places, and food security.
Established in 2023, CBIKS is headquartered at UMass Amherst with university and Indigenous community partners across the United States and internationally.
CBIKS' research is fully community-based, developed from Indigenous community priorities and conducted in full partnership with our community partners. CBIKS education components involve Indigenous community members and students at the preK–12, undergrad, and graduate level to train professionals who are skilled leaders in the ethical braiding of Indigenous and Western Sciences. CBIKS knowledge exchange activities provide workshops, trainings and internships for ethically utilizing them for policy makers and state, federal, and Tribal agencies who manage and care for our nation's lands, waters, and cultural places. CBIKS brings together arts and storytelling as a means to share scientific research with the public, Indigenous communities, and diverse audiences.
CBIKS is about recognizing that Indigenous knowledge systems carry tremendous information and value, and it’s shortsighted to think that current research practices founded on Western knowledge systems are the only or ‘right’ approach.
CBIKS' Three Components
Transforming research by braiding Indigenous and Western Science.
Regional Research Hubs
At eight regional hubs across the U.S. and in Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Australia, CBIKS will use a community-based approach to develop and carry out place-based transdisciplinary projects. We use a braided Indigenous and Western science methodology in our partnerships with 57 Indigenous communities, and look forward to developing new partnerships and hubs.
Thematic Working Groups
Working groups will distill key lessons from regional hub projects to produce methodologies and ethical guidelines that utilize Western and Indigenous science together throughout the research process. CBIKS research is grounded in relationality and data sovereignty is foundational to the center. These and other working groups will provide models for researchers in STEM disciplines and beyond.
A publicly available knowledge base will store, organize, and share methods, ethics, and best practices for connecting Western and Indigenous science. This will help ensure that students, scientists, and communities have access to what we learn together at CBIKS, contributing to enhanced climate adaptation planning and care of Tribal homelands, public lands, and cultural heritage.
Addressing Climate Change
Scientists, governments, and policymakers increasingly recognize the importance of Indigenous knowledge systems in making robust decisions about climate change adaptation and in natural and cultural resource planning and management. Yet, Indigenous and Western sciences are based on very different knowledge systems, with differing practices through the stages of research.
Led by a team of predominantly Indigenous scholars and with an emphasis on mentoring and training Indigenous scientists, CBIKS will provide models, practices, methods, and ethical guidelines for braiding Indigenous knowledges and science together with current science practices.
We can learn many things with and from Indigenous peoples that can help our planet with the existential threat of climate change.
Training the Next Generation
CBIKS aims to train the next generation of scientists and cultural and natural resource managers to braid Indigenous knowledge and science with research practices, policies, decision-making and planning. To achieve our aim of training new Indigenous scientists, CBIKS will provide undergraduate, graduate, and community research assistantships and internships in all regional hubs and working groups.
Education and knowledge exchange activities will include:
- Developing formal science education materials, including college-level Indigenous knowledge bundles and an Indigenous Science course for K–12 teachers
- Developing informal science education activities, including Indigenous science STEM camps and after-school programs, and Indigenous science museum exhibits
- Sharing what we learn using Indigenous teaching methods such as trainings for museum and government agency staff utilizing storywork and accessible arts-based formats
It's essential that we take Indigenous knowledge seriously, and that we do so with respect and care, following ethical protocols.
CBIKS Principal Investigators
CBIKS Center Director
Provost Professor of Anthropology
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Coordinator for DEI & Ethics Co-Lead, CBIKS Southwest Hub
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Associate Vice-President, Office of Native American Initiatives
Northern Arizona University
Coordinator for Knowledge Transfer Co-Lead, CBIKS Northeast Hub
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Faculty Associate, Climate Change Institute
University of Maine
Co-Lead, Science Review Circle Co-Lead, CBIKS Training Scientists Working Group
Professor of Geosciences
Co-director, Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (NECASC)
University of Massachusetts Amherst
International Network of Scholars
The CBIKS network already includes dozens of scholars—primarily Indigenous—leading place-based research with Indigenous communities around the globe. And we aim to continue building trusted relationships, welcoming more Indigenous community partners, expanding the current regional hubs, and creating new ones.
CBIKS is a partnership involving these institutions and organizations around the globe.
Listing of all Partner Organizations