Closeup of hand woven basket

Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science

Sonya Atalay and graduate students

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.

Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science


NSF Logo - National Science Foundation

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.

Sonya Atalay, CBIKS Director and UMass Amherst Provost Professor of Anthropology

CBIKS' Three Components​

Transforming research by braiding Indigenous and Western Science.

Women scientists doing field research.

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.

Ezhibiigadesk asin elders circle

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.

Scenic mountain view of the shoulder of a person taking in the view

Knowledge Base

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.

Thematic working groups, knowledge base, and regional research hubs
Researchers on the beach.

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

Person offering a gift to another while sitting on stairs with others

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

Learn more about the vision and goals of the Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science (CBIKS).

It's essential that we take Indigenous knowledge seriously, and that we do so with respect and care, following ethical protocols.

CBIKS Principal Investigators

Sonya Atalay
Sonya Atalay

CBIKS Center Director

Provost Professor of Anthropology

University of Massachusetts Amherst


Ora Marek-Martinez
Ora Marek-Martinez

Coordinator for DEI & Ethics Co-Lead, CBIKS Southwest Hub

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Associate Vice-President, Office of Native American Initiatives

Northern Arizona University


Bonnie Newsom
Bonnie Newsom

Coordinator for Knowledge Transfer Co-Lead, CBIKS Northeast Hub

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Faculty Associate, Climate Change Institute

University of Maine


Jon Woodruff
Jon Woodruff

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


Collage of headshots

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.

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