Global Museum Director Paige Bardolph Explains Why Native Knowledge is Essential to Understand the Environment

Monday, May 18, 2020

KCET-CHANNEL 28 (BURBANK) -- Paige Bardolph is the director of the Global Museum at San Francisco State University, where she also teaches graduate courses in Museum Studies. She recently worked with graduate students to curate an exhibition on the impacts of climate change on indigenous communities. She was formally an associate curator at the Autry Museum of the American West and lead curator of the “California Continued” exhibit. She has also held positions at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences.

For this article, Bardolph interviewed Aritree Samanta, SF State assistant professor of Environmental Studies.

“A more holistic way of looking at the environment needs to include indigenous perspectives on philosophies about the environment, environmental problems, cultural shifts in the environment and solutions to environmental issues,” Bardolph wrote. “The indigenous perspective has not traditionally been recognized but it is crucial to integrate it into policy planning and resource management.

“One relevant example is fires and the ways we think about them. It seems that fires disrupt life in California almost constantly, especially in the past few years, when wildfires have caused forced evacuations and communities losing their homes. Native communities, however, have lived in, coexisted with and managed forests for a long time, using fire as an active land management technique. Cultural burning was practiced for generations and prevented big fires from breaking out until the turn of the 20th century.”