Man looking at a video exhibit.

September 1

Explore the Roots of Wisdom at MOHAI

Mark your calendars for MOHAI’s “Roots of Wisdom” exhibit coming in October.

Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) is no stranger to groundbreaking exhibits, but its upcoming show, “Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science.” promises to be an enlightening experience that elevates Indigenous voices and perspectives. Scheduled to run from October 7, 2023, to March 3, 2024, the showing promises to bridge the gap between traditional Indigenous knowledge and modern scientific methods.

The exhibit presents a rare opportunity to delve into the rich tapestry of Indigenous wisdom that has often been sidelined in mainstream narratives about science and technology. As Executive Director Leonard Garfield mentions, the exhibit is a tribute to the invaluable contributions of Indigenous cultures to the fields of science and sustainability.

Museum exhibit sign.

Interactive displays, immersive experiences, and videos guide visitors through the collaborative journey of ancient knowledge and modern scientific advancements. The exhibit is designed to engage a younger demographic, specifically visitors aged 11­–14, inspiring them to actively participate in the growing movement towards sustainability and the reclamation of age-old practices.

The exhibit features the stories of four Indigenous communities—the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Native Hawaiians, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation, and the Tulalip Tribes. Each section delves into real-world challenges and solutions:

Re-establishing a Native Plant, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
This part focuses on the river cane plant, vital for both ecological balance and cultural practices like basket weaving.

Restoring Fish Ponds, Hawaii
Here, visitors explore the Hawaiian traditions of sustainable aquaculture, which hold lessons for modern-day food security challenges.

Rediscovering Traditional Foods, Tulalip Tribes
This section delves into the practices of wild harvesting and gardening, and their proven health benefits.

Saving Streams and Wildlife, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Visitors learn about the lamprey, a critical part of ecosystems that the Umatilla Tribes depend on, and its journey back from near extinction.

People enjoying a museum exhibit.

People enjoying a museum exhibit.

The exhibition’s blend of age-old wisdom and cutting-edge science provides compelling insights into ecological and health challenges facing us today. “Roots of Wisdom” also encourages hands-on participation, allowing guests to engage in activities like basket weaving, data examination, and resource gathering.

This intersection of Indigenous knowledge and modern science not only offers solutions but also creates respect and understanding for the often-overlooked contributions of Native peoples. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this celebration of enduring knowledge and sustainable living.

Admission to “Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science.” is included with regular MOHAI admission of $22 for adults; $18 for senior citizens ages 65 and over; $17 for students and military; free for youth (ages 14 and under, accompanied by a chaperone, maximum five youth admitted per chaperone), and MOHAI members.

Story by Ethan Chung & photographs courtesy MOHAI.

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