Humboldt Journal of Social Relations


It is clear from Cal Poly Humboldt’s Polytechnic Prospectus that Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Indigenous communities are key parts of what elevates Humboldt’s development of a polytechnic university for the next century. The prospectus demonstrates Humboldt's proposed framework for a different comprehensive polytechnic "will also be informed by Indigenous communities and ways of knowing, as many Native peoples have lived sustainably in their places since time immemorial” (19). There are many considerations when engaging with TEK, especially around sustainable use. It is also important that engagement with TEK and Indigenous science not only center knowledge sharing, but also how departments, programs, and colleges are dedicated to upholding sovereignty and self-determination and working to empower Indigenous students, communities, and ongoing projects of land return, environmental justice, and education. This article will discuss the role of Native American Studies in building decolonial frameworks for a new polytechnic—polytech to PolyTEK. The article explores the history of cultural knowledge exploitation, Humboldt Native programs and initiatives; the resurgence of Indigenous science and knowledges, and new interdisciplinary initiatives at Humboldt that value NAS as a partner to building polytechnic programming.

Humboldt is positioned to offer a cutting edge and unrivaled polytechnic experience to current and future students. Indigenous knowledge systems are especially important and appropriate to consider in the development of a polytechnic institute because Indigenous knowledges are fundamentally interdisciplinary and applied. Indigenous knowledges are also at the forefront of cutting-edge research interventions in the sciences and western academic institutions. When we talk about or propose “decolonizing” curriculum or higher education we must build this from Indigenous frameworks with Indigenous Peoples at the center of our academic vision and planning.