In an interview for High Country News, geologist Margaret Hiza Redsteer, Crow, discusses the informative role that the memory of the Navajo people has come to play in her research. Hiza Redsteer works for the U.S. Geological Survey and uses the Navajos' traditional knowledge and oral environmental history to fill in the gaps in scientific data. For example, she says, it's "hard to reconstruct where plants and animals were in the past. The elders have told us that when there were cottonwoods in the Little Colorado river there were lots of beavers. They used to see cranes migrate through the area in the spring, stopping in the marshes around lakes that aren't there now."
Interestingly, while indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge is helping scientific researchers learn about the past, it is also breaking down in the present. "A lot of them say that they can't predict the weather anymore," Hiza Redsteer says. "Things have changed so much that their traditional calendars don't work."
To read the full interview, visit High Country News.