|UMD's Hannah Smith says, "Connecting with other indigenous people and comparing and contrasting resource management has become a growing passion."|
There is a strong environmental theme to Hannah Smith’s journey, and UMD’s Program in Environment and Sustainability is an important stop along the way.
STUDIES AND PROJECTS
Smith, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts, has a goal. She wants to be part of the growing science community that accepts traditional ecological knowledge. That means she is taking a lot of science classes, and she is paying attention to the history and traditions of her Anishinaabe background and that of others. “It’s important for me to learn more about how other First Nation peoples are dealing with social, economic, and environmental problems,” she said. “Resource management is similar across reservations, states, and countries, and the solutions are also likely to overlap.”
While a freshman and sophomore at White Earth Tribal and Community College, her world changed when she was awarded a NASA Summer Internship Research Experience in Geospatial Technology and Climate Change. It was a partnership with the NASA Tribal Colleges and Universities Program. That prestigious program took her to Haskell College, Lawrence, Kansas.
WATER RESOURCE MAP
While participating in the NASA internship, from 2012 to 2014, she designed a water quality database, which has now been passed on to White Earth. Her map encompasses six different watersheds that flow into and out of White Earth land. The goal is to prioritize rivers, streams, marshlands, and lakes for testing on White Earth Nation and get accurate and comprehensive readings of water quality.
“We need to gather more hard data so people know how much, where, and when things change,” Smith says. “Gathering data from the wild rice lakes is especially important.” Her work gained her national attention, and she gave presentations on the project in Boulder, Colo., Washington D.C. and Hanover, N.H.
MANAGING SPATIAL DATA
At UMD she has found support from Mike Mageau, assistant professor, and others in UMD’s Geospatial Analysis Center. Smith is currently interning on a Minnesota Sea Grant project that looks at impacts of the 2012 flood on Fond du Lac Reservation and the Fond du Lac neighborhood in Duluth.
The project looks at ways for communities to become more resilient in the face of hazardous weather events, which are becoming more common due to climate change. The project team includes Rebecca Teasley, a UMD Civil Engineering assistant professor, Courtney Kowalczak from the Fond du Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Karlyn Eckman from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Val Were from Minnesota Sea Grant and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and Dawn Newman from University of Minnesota Extension.
Written by Cheryl Reitan. February, 2015.
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