Date of Award

August 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Leanne M Evans

Second Advisor

Tracy J Posnanski

Committee Members

Margaret A Noodin, Aaron Schutz


Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, First Science, Language Brokerage, Native Culture and Language, Ojibwemowin, Science Education


Innate to the traditional science curricula taught under the auspices of United States public education are a Neoliberal axiology and Eurocentric epistemology (Howard & Kern, 2019) that do not meet the cultural needs of American Indian students (Cobern & Loving, 2001). It is inequitable that American Indian students do not see themselves and their cultures reflected in traditional public school science texts and curricula. At the confluence of often-undifferentiated science curricula and American Indian culture and language, there is a need for a responsiveness that benefits American Indian students. This present study illuminates the research question, “What is revealed about culturally responsive pedagogy for American Indian students in the process of examining the cultural content of an American Indian text alongside traditional U.S. public education science standards?” This study is framed by culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995), culturally responsive pedagogy (Gay, 2002), and tribal critical race theory (Brayboy, 2005), and centralizes the cultural and educational needs of American Indian students whose identities have traditionally been silenced and devalued in the public school setting. Connections between culturally responsive pedagogy and classroom practices that support American Indian students are elucidated in ways that support their consideration by Native and non-Native teachers. It is through a Native text-to-science standards analysis that the morphologies, etymologies, and usage of Native languages are connected to traditional U.S. Western science educational outcomes. The research question herein was addressed in a phenomenological methodological process through which a generalizable model was conceptualized for its applicability beyond the present study. The intent of this model is to help schools with defined belief systems understand how to align their values and culture with federal and state curricular guidelines for science. This study revealed three findings: (a) teachers used their cultural knowledge as the essence of their instruction, (b) teachers acted as language brokers when they considered instructional materials, and (c) teachers expressed ambivalence toward science standards related to their instructional planning, design, and implementation. As the findings of this study reconceptualize the confluence of Native epistemologies and Western science, there are implications for teachers, educational systems, and standards/policy decision makers.