Monday, June 27, 2016

Book review: Native American Scientists

Capstone Short Biographies: Native American Scientists: Fred Begay, Wilfred F. Denetclaw Jr., Frank C. Dukepoo, Clifton Poodry, Jerrel Yakel, by Jetty st. John, Capstone Press, Mankato, MN 1996.
This book may be a bit too young for my taste, but I was interested in the topic.  The five scientist presented all have some similarities, a struggle to get where they are.  Often this struggle was against their own culture, but more often against their own attitude towards education.  Wilfred F. Detenclaw Jr. had to overcome a cultural issue in his education, he was assigned to dissect a cat.  However disturbing a dead animal is taboo to the Navajo, because it will effect the animal's spirit.  Only after talking to a medicine man did he feel comfortable going ahead with the assign, because he had to learn about animals and how they work.  He is a Navajo zoologist.
Frank C. Dukepoo was the victim of a bully.  However he is Hopi, a peaceful people so he didn't fight back, but got even in the classroom.  He received five scholarships, but wasted them away with his lifestyle of non-study.  He then didn't know what to do, but a mento advised him to earn the money he needed and start over.  That he did, and he now teacher biology at a university.
Fred Begay is mixed heritage, Ute and navajo.  He didn't attend school until he was nine, a government school, where he wasn't allowed to use his language or ceremonies, nor go home for two years.  He served in the Korean War flying on rescue missions.  He became a physicists and works at the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico.  He is working on fusion.
Clifton Poodry is a member of the Seneca Tribe who was thinking of becoming a teacher, but he became so interested in genetics this became his life long pursuit.  He is a bioligist.  He works with Native American youth on pursuing science.
Jerrel Yakel is a California Indian from the Luiseno tribe.  His 8th grade science teacher sparked his interest in science when he was challenged to collect 50 bugs.  He is now a neuroscientist and studies the brain and how it works.  These studies lead to the development of medications for mental and other disorders.

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