Parent Page: Educational Services id: 31880 Active Page: Incorporate Ethnomathematics and Ethnoscienceid:31952

American Indian Education Knowledgbase

This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

The American Indian Education KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid education professionals in their efforts to improve the education of American Indian students and close the achievement gap American Indian students have faced in public, Bureau of Indian Education, and other schools.

Task 3: Incorporate Ethnomathematics and Ethnoscience

Guideline: Unlike most western cultures, native cultures generally approach mathematics and science within the context of their society's culture. The concept of "ethnomathematics" was first used by Brazilian mathematician Ubiratan D'Ambrosio to describe the mathematical practices of identifiable cultural groups. When teaching native students, the relevant math and science curriculum should be related to the students' cultural backgrounds.

Overview: The Australian Academy of Science declares, "the term ‘ethnomathematics' was first used in the late 1960s by a Brazilian mathematician, Ubiratan D'Ambrosio, to describe the mathematical practices of identifiable cultural groups. Some see it as the study of mathematics in different cultures, others as a way of making mathematics more relevant to different cultural or ethnic groups, yet others as a way of understanding the differences between cultures."

D'Ambrosio viewed ethnomathematics as a means to integrate science with social justice. Such a view does not sit "comfortably with many scientists: science, they argue, is science, and trying to make it politically correct will only impede its progress. Some educators fret that teaching mathematics using an ethnomathematical approach reduces it to a social studies subject that teaches students little about ‘real' mathematics. Others simply ridicule the whole notion: according to one disparaging journalist, 'Unless you wish to balance your checkbook the ancient Navajo way, it's probably safe to ignore the whole thing'.... But there are also many scientists, educators and commentators who see ethnomathematics - in all its definitions - as a legitimate discipline with plenty to offer the modern world."

Ethnoscience provides an approach similar to ethnomathematics to relate culture to science.


American Indian Lesson Plans from Sand Spring Public School

This public school website offers various lesson plans for elementary and middle school students regarding: Oklahoma tribes, Spiro and Toltec Mounds in Arkansas, Plains Indians, Cherokee History, and Trail of Tears.  The website also offers a deeper dive into 5 Indian tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole.

Plains Indians Lesson Plans

This website offers Plains Indians lesson plans, myths and legends as well as PowerPoint presentations for children.

Smithsonian Education

This resource provides a database of education resources available through the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies. Native American related content can be found lesson plans, resources and Smithsonian educational resources aligned to state standards. This database may be useful for teachers searching for culturally responsive resources.



Ancient Observatories: Native American Connections

This NASA resource "provides information to learn more about the Sun's connection to the Earth through images, cultural parallels and activities that Native Americans have used to share Sun-Earth science through several generations."

Ethno Mathematics – A Rich Cultural Diversity

From the Australian Academy of Science, this article reviews how mathematics has been used by Pacific native cultures. It points out how "Western mathematics does not meet the needs of all people and is not always easily understood outside the ˜mainstream' culture."

Native Knowledge and Western Science

This Education Northwest resource offers content related to blending native knowledge and western science.


Toltec Mounds, Arkansas: Secrets of Native American Earthworks

Hugh Newman investigates the Toltec Mounds with author Andrew Collins. A Native American mound complex in Arkansas. CLICK HERE  to explore the world with Megalithomania.  Download lectures from Graham Hancock, Andrew Collins, Brien Foerster.


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and are intended for general reference purposes only. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education or the Center, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Some resources on this site require Adobe Acrobat Reader. This website archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.