Jocelyn Alcantara-Garcia UDARI Faculty Fellow Project Update

Posted on July 22, 2021 at: 11:35 am

Below is a short paragraph/abstract of the project/publication. For reference, among other things, I will touch on the “Chemistry of Dyeing” online workshop, and two other workshops part of a DE Humanities grant. (The First People of the First State: Restoring our Ancestral Knowledge). The publication is going to the Journal of Chemical Education, which is preparing a special issue on Diversity and Inclusion.

I’ll continue working on the white paper on the air. Is white paper because it is so general that you can scribble on the blank/white page? Were they submitted back in the day in the whitest paper? Hypotheses…

Dyed archaeological textiles. Herbal remedies. Improvement of food’s nutritional properties. These are only three examples that were discovered and exploited by Indigenous communities around the globe, many of which still exist today. The scientific method starts with an observation, followed by steps that include a testable hypothesis and experimentation. The three examples provided exemplify that the earliest scientists are of Indigenous origin, as dyed textiles still show their vibrant colors (discovered how chromophores bond); quinone remains used to treat malaria (treated stomach maladies with Cinchona officinalis); and nixtamalized corn continues to feed millions (made readily available niacin, increasing maize’s nutritional value). Indigenous communities tend to live below the poverty threshold and are frequently discriminated and undermined, so this work presents selected discoveries and contributions made by Indigenous peoples as an ally strategy. The work and teaching idea has two main objectives: (1) to showcase “the earliest scientists” by connecting historical background with scientific discovery, and (2) to attract and retain people to STEM fields, using Indigenous knowledge.