As we edge ever closer to our big day, we introduce one more performer and presenter for our event: native storyteller and scientist Samantha Chisholm Hatfield, whose interactive storytelling techniques combine the oral traditional knowledge of Native Americans with standard scientific inquiry to convey a fuller picture of the environment.
Dr. Chisholm Hatfield earned her doctorate from Oregon State University in Environmental Sciences, with a focus on the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of Siletz Tribal Members. She is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, from the Tututni and Chinook bands, and is also Cherokee.
Dr. Chisholm Hatfield has worked with the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, and has worked to coordinate tribal participation in Northwest Climate Science Center and USGS Climate Boot Camp workshops. Her dissertation has been heralded nationally by scholars as a pioneering template for TEK research. She is a Native American Longhouse Advisory Board member at Oregon State, and a featured blogger for the Union of Concerned Scientists. She was selected as an H.J. Andrews Forest Visiting Scholar, and chosen as a Korean Foundation Fellowship Field Research Scholar to study TEK in South Korea.
Dr. Chisholm Hatfield talked with us about her performance, and the value of bringing Native perspectives into the study of ecology.
TEDxSalem: Talk a little about your appearance at this year’s event.
Samantha Chisholm Hatfield: I’m very excited to bring a strong Native voice to offer a perspective not many have heard, or are even aware is there!
Looking through a Native looking glass out at the world provides a rich depth and traditional views that are longstanding. I offer a look at what growing up Native “looks” like, what it takes to become an academic professional, and why I do the work I do.
Many people are unaware of the richness that Native American culture brings, as well as the longstanding and current contributions that Native culture holds.
TxS: How do you believe it ties in to the theme of the event, “Through the Looking Glass?”
SCH: Many times it is assumed that perspectives are all the same, or that a classic stereotype is correct. Perspectives vary from person to person when looking at the world, and the depth and breadth of culture brings about a beauty that many miss when they assume or accept a stereotype.
A looking glass can hold multiple facets, depending on the angle, so to [see] the light that shines through a Native “angle” is something most have not had the opportunity to experience. The dominant worldview most are accustomed to seeing, hearing, and believing is not always the only view.
TxS: You’ve mentioned that there are very few Ph. Ds doing what you do in the Native community. Do you see yourself as a role model for others Native Americans to follow?
It’s not up to me to say. I hope to be showing a different way to look at science and look at native culture. So all people through TEK can gain another perspective, another way to see how the world works, and what diversity really means.
TxS: What would you want the audience to come away with, having learned about indigenous TEK? What is your hope for the event?
SCH: I’d like for participants to be more aware about the depth of indigenous knowledge and TEK; how stories are the backbone of our traditions and the term “story” often entails multiple levels. Entertainment has a purpose and is often a very effective tool used for teaching.
I also look forward to [sharing] what it takes to live in two worlds, and the challenges Natives face as they live and work in mainstream society. Native Americans have often been termed the invisible minority because of the lack of acknowledgement, and I routinely hear individuals say they have never met a Native person, when in reality chances are that they know someone who is Native but don’t recognize it due to stereotypes and assumptions.
Get your tickets for TEDxSalem V
TEDxSalem V is an all-day event featuring talks, performances, refreshments, lunch and a swag bag that takes place Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Salem Convention Center. Purchase tickets here. Follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date news from our community, and check our website regularly for new information. You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.