GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 244-5
Presentation Time: 2:50 PM


SALISBURY, Morgan, Mount St. Helens Institute, 42218 NE Yale Bridge Rd, Amboy, WA 98601-4601

There is a growing awareness that Earth Science education lacks cultural diversity in both those who practice the discipline, as well as within the broader narrative in which the discipline operates. Part of the problem lies in the way the history of geology of a science is typically taught in introductory classrooms: often beginning with Ancient Greek viewpoints and moving through advancements in European geological thought including contributions from Steno, Hutton, Smith, Lyell, Darwin, and Wegener with little or no mention of non-European viewpoints. On their own, such lessons send the message that geology is a science made by, and for, white Europeans and their descendants. This biased narrative is continually and implicitly reinforced throughout the geosciences including the unquestioned use of colonial names for Cascade stratovolcanoes — names which were given with the explicit purpose of erasing indigenous history and denying native claims to their lands. Discussion of Pliocene to Recent volcanoes in Earth Science classrooms allows ample opportunity to introduce non-Eurocentric perspectives as their eruptions overlap entirely with human existence. A local example is that of Lawetlat’la volcano (Mt. Saint Helens) which was nearly entirely constructed by lava flows occurring within eyesight of Native American communities over thousands of years, punctuated by enormous edifice-building eruptive periods that occurred over decades. Such was the frequency of these eruptions that local indigenous populations appear to have been familiar with the concept that some stratovolcanoes are much younger than others, and that a relationship exists between volcano morphology and age. Although the ages of Native American folklore are difficult to ascertain, it is likely these ideas predate those of James Hutton in the late 1700s, who is widely regarded as revolutionary for his theories of deep time and an active, renewing planet. As volcanoes are found across the world, discussion of eruptions and their influence on local populations provide numerous pathways to introduce non-Eurocentric viewpoints and timelines into the Earth Science classroom.