Physical Science in Native American Knowledge Traditions

Every culture has some knowledge about the physical laws of the universe. At first glance, the European tradition of Newton, Maxwell and Einstein seems like they nailed it. But this is also the tradition that brought us nuclear weapons, global warming and environmental toxins. Could there be other ways of knowing? Approaches just as insightful for science, but less damaging to people and the planet?

In this website you will learn about the wealth of physical science knowledge that can be found in Native American traditions. We will use some online simulations to “translate” between the Indigenous view, and the way physical science is understood in the contemporary science classroom. We will see that Native knowledge systems make less use of numbers, but still have deep insights into how physical laws work, and ways of approaching them that can be better for people and the planet. And sometimes just a lot more fun.

The Yupik of Alaska say that the yuuyuuk originates in a hunting weapon, and later evolved into a skill game. Notice that they are like mirror images: when one is at 0 degrees, the other is at 180. We call this “180 degrees out of phase”.