'Let our Indigenous voices be heard': Indigenous scientists join March for Science

Over 1,500 Indigenous scientists and their allies have voiced their support for Saturday's March for Science, when scientists from around the world will take to the streets to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's stance on climate change and on science.

Thousands of people are expected to show up for the main march in Washington — which is also Earth Day — with other marches planned throughout Canada and the U.S., and around the world.

"As members of the Indigenous science community, we endorse and support the March for Science — and we encourage Indigenous people and allies to participate," reads a letter signed by over 1,500 scientists, professors, doctors, academics and other professionals.

"Let our Indigenous voices be heard."

Indigenous knowledge 'not as privileged'

While the document endorses the march, it's also a reminder to the scientific community that Indigenous knowledge is just as important as Western science. Encouraging that concept is a challenge for Indigenous people in science and academics, said Gladys Rowe, a Cree Ph.D. student originally from the Fox Lake Cree Nation in northern Manitoba who also signed the support letter.

"There's a perception within the Academy that Indigenous knowledge is less than and it's not as privileged as the Western way of understanding the world," she said.

"In Canada, specifically, a lot of institutions talk about 'Indigenizing' — but when you actually get down to the work of it, there's so many barriers and a lot of those barriers have to do with what is framed as science."

Rowe, who is currently in Baltimore with her family, hasn't decided whether she'll march on Saturday, but by signing her name she wants others to know where she stands.

Collaborators, not research subjects

The letter also said that while more and more Indigenous people are choosing to study science or make it their career, Indigenous communities have long been seen as mere research subjects by Western scientists.

"Our tribal communities need more culturally embedded scientists and at the same time, institutions of Western science need more Indigenous perspectives," it reads.

"The next generation of scientists needs to be well-positioned for growing collaboration with Indigenous science."

Notable signatories from Canada include Leroy Little Bear, a renowned Blackfoot academic with the University of Lethbridge, and Deborah McGregor, an Anishinaabe professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School and faculty of environmental studies at York University in Toronto.