Roots of Wisdom

Children at the Roots of Wisdom exhibit

Fast Facts

Summary

Roots of Wisdom helps visitors discover how diverse Native American and Hawaiian cultures are improving the world using their traditional knowledge in conjunction with cutting-edge, western science and technology. 

Square Footage 
2,000 sq ft
Topics 
Collaboration
Earth and Climate Science
Health and Life Science
STEAM
Price 

$30,000/3 months, plus shipping

Highlights 

Conservation video games
Puzzle challenges
Immersive Fire Pit and Story Area
Basket Weaving Interactive

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Now more than ever, populations across the globe face serious challenges meeting basic human needs in maintaining sustainable food supplies, clean drinking water and healthy communities.  In Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science, visitors learn how diverse Native American and Hawaiian cultures are using their traditional knowledge in conjunction with cutting-edge, western science and technology to successfully restore waterways, help save endangered species, solve health problems, and revitalize cultural practices.

The exhibition shares the stories of four communities giving visitors inspiring, real life examples of how complementary solutions to ecological and health challenges are being applied to improve our world. Through the voices of elders and youth, storytelling, hands-on interactives, multimedia and graphics, visitors take part in the growing movement towards sustainability and reclamation of age-old practices.
 

Virtual Tour

Roots of Wisdom introductory display

Roots of Wisdom overview

Native Origins display panel

Native Origins—Native discoveries and innovations have been used and adapted over time and touch the lives of people all over the world. Visitors will view this display and realize that from duck decoys to surf boards, from chocolate to popcorn, native knowledge impacts our lives every day.

Passing a Tradition weaving activity

Passing a Tradition—Cherokee elders are teaching the next generation about this traditional craft. In reviving their culture, they may just be saving their local ecology as well.  Visitors are invited to watch the video, view a display of river cane baskets, and try their hand at weaving.

Passing a Tradition display panel

Passing a Tradition—Cherokee elders are teaching the next generation about this traditional craft. In reviving their culture, they may just be saving their local ecology as well.  Visitors are invited to watch the video, view a display of river cane baskets, and try their hand at weaving.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians thematic area overview

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians thematic area overview

Story Area overview

Story Area—In the Story Area groups engage in storytelling, either by listening to traditional Native stories around the “fire pit” or telling their own stories. Guests can learn traditional weaving patterns around the fire with the weaving boards provided.

Story Area overview

Story Area—In the Story Area groups engage in storytelling, either by listening to traditional Native stories around the “fire pit” or telling their own stories. Guests can learn traditional weaving patterns around the fire with the weaving boards provided.

Detail of Story Area panels

Double sided panel surrounding the fire pit.

Love of the Land interactive activity

Aloha Aina: Love of the Land—Visitors join a stream of water on an incredible journey down a Hawaiian mountainside in this popular interactive activity. When puzzle pieces are positioned correctly, visitors will be surprised by simulated sounds of thunder to tell them they were successful.

'Restoring Fish Ponds' introductory video

Native Hawaiians “Restoring Fish Ponds” introduction video

'Hawaiian Fish Ponds' interactive activity

Hawaiian Fish Ponds—This exciting video game becomes more challenging as the player gains knowledge. In Hawaiian Fish Ponds, visitors act as caretaker of a fish pond, bringing the pond back to restored health.

'Love of the Land' stream activity and display panel

Aloha Aina: Love of the Land—Visitors join a stream of water on an incredible journey down a Hawaiian mountainside in this popular interactive activity. When puzzle pieces are positioned correctly, visitors will be surprised by simulated sounds of thunder to tell them they were successful.

'Saving Streams and Wildlife' introductory video

Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation “Saving Streams and Wildlife Intro Video”

'Protecting an Ancient Fish' interactive activity

Protecting An Ancient Fish—In this engaging interactive, visitors can pick up a creepy looking “lamprey” and step into the role of a scientist. Visitors learn about the traditional stewardship of the lamprey and how the fish provides medicine and sustenance for the tribes and is a critical component of the ecosystem they depend on

'Healthy Streams, Returning Salmon' interactive activity

Healthy Streams, Returning Salmon—Using durable, magnetic building pieces, visitors gain points for joining puzzle pieces together and adding features found in nature to create a healthy stream system.  Players learn how traditional ecological knowledge and Western science are working together to support a healthier future for aquatic life.

'Connected to the Land' interactive activity

Connected to the Land—In a clever computer interactive, players journey through the seasons to harvest native foods in three mini-games. In spring, dig for clams; in summer, pick native blackberries; in fall, catch salmon.  In winter, visitors may listen to a traditional story or song from a member of the Tulalip community.  

'Food: Medicine of the Land' display panel

Food: Medicine of the Land—Visitors learn traditional practices of wild harvesting as well as modern gardening.  Visitors may touch a watering wand to garden plants or a bee to wild native plants.  Learn through science, how eating locally grown foods and native food plants are beneficial to human health.

'Discovering Native Food' introductory video

Tulalip Tribes “Discovering Native Food” introduction video

Availability

Museum of the Rockies

North Carolina Arboretum

The Wild Center

Gwinnett Environmental & Cultural Center

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OMSI for refurbishment

CDC Museum

CDC Museum

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School Resources

Staff & Educator Guide

A collection of PDFs and guides for museum staff and teachers to expand on the educational content of the exhibit, including in-classroom experiments and activities for your museum floor.

Museum Resources

Exhibit Floor Plan

This sample floor plan gives you an idea of how Roots of Wisdom will look in your gallery space.

Media Resources

Exhibit Website

Check out OMSI's Roots of Wisdom website to learn more about the exhibition, Native ecology, and watch the videos included in the exhibition.

Roots of Wisdom website >

Marketing Kit

All the logos, images, and assets you need to properly market the exhibit, promote sponsors, and get guests excited about their visit!

Collaboration With Integrity. Exhibition journal article, Fall 2016.

Unlike many museum exhibitions about Native American life and culture, the project is not built around a collection of objects or artworks, and does not present and interpret traditional lifeways. Roots of Wisdom is an interactive, science museum exhibition about contemporary ecological and cultural restoration.

Questions?
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Partners

Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science. was produced and is toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). The exhibit was made possible with funds provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF).