Rose Thater Braan-Imai
(Tuscarora)

(510) 237-6217 - vnthater@berkeley.edu

Rose Thater Braan-Imai

Nit don nito ko, Nato Inn Ni Maki. Sacred Hawk Woman.
My name describes me as a member of the Bird Tribe, a carrier of messages.
My people are from the Carolinas, the Shenandoah;
in the 1700s they travelled north and were welcomed into the lands of the Haudenosaunee.
Until I was in my 60s I had not stood on my traditional homelands.
I was born at the foot of Twin Peaks in San Francisco.
Up the block from our flat there was a large vacant lot.
Because we were on a hill, it was below street level.
It was wild, filled with anise and blackberries, poppies, yarrow,
morning glories, nasturtiums...
I would climb down from the street, to range around, explore,
and disappear into the sounds and smells, the feelings and spirits of the place.
This was my place, as close as I could get to the natural world.
This is where my education began.
I have introduced myself in this way because in the Indigenous worldview
it is relationship to place that lies at the heart of learning
and is at the center of Indigenous knowledge.

Rose Imai works extensively with the Indigenous ceremonial dialogue process and has devoted her adult life to exploring the transformative dimensions of communication. Her life, education, and work were in the arts until she brought her creativity, training and experience into the worlds of science and higher education.

Rose was the Director of Education at U.C. Berkeley's Center for Particle Astrophysics from 1989 to 2000, where she led collaborative efforts to cultivate a scientific culture that supports an understanding of diversity that includes divergent worldviews. Central elements of this work, were the abilities and skills necessary for productive collaborations, distributive leadership, and communicating with diverse audiences. Following traditional Indigenous values and processes, she designed programs to explore the role values, meaning and relationship play in leadership. These programs expanded graduate training to explore fulfilling careers for scientists to include successful transitions into business, government and academic careers.

She is the co-founder and director of The Native American Academy, a circle of Native scholars and Traditional Knowledge Holders utilizing research, dialogue, writing and action projects that increase the visibility of the native paradigm, indigenous learning processes and native science. She is a respected writer and speaker, whose work has been published and presented in national and international forums including, among others; the National Academy of Sciences, Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga (Centre of Research Excellence) University of Auckland, Southeastern Consortium for Minority Education, University of Arizona, the Education & Human Values Conference, University of California Berkeley, and the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington D.C.

In 2002, she convened The Tahlequah Dialogues held in Oklahoma and Washington, D.C., a groundbreaking event on diversity in education that brought together Program Directors of the National Science Foundation and Indigenous participants representing tribes from across the North American continent.

In 2009, at the request of the National Science Foundation, she convened a series of learning lodges for NSF Program Directors and developed a course of study that used the Native paradigm as a lens through which to explore the boundaries and knowledge of the Indigenous worldview. The curriculum which followed traditional Native protocols and learning philosophy was designed to suspend the western cultural lens to allow the western trained mind to accurately perceive and experience the Indigenous worldview and the conditions and processes under which we learn.

Rose's current focus is The Native American Academy's creation of a Sculpture Garden of Native Science and Learning envisioned as a library of Indigenous ways of knowing. The project uses a unique inter-tribal collective art project to communicate Native Science --- ‘wahkohtowin’ --- “knowing how you are related to all creation” (Cree). The project design and execution by traditional artists /knowledge holders uses multi-media sculpture (stone, wood, bone, etc.) and traditional and contemporary techniques to create images, symbols, glyphs and forms that carry the living knowledge of Native science. The library is intended to bring to life the potential for new knowledge that is present in bringing western and native worldviews into an equitable, ethical relationship.

This project is a reflection of her deeply held commitment to broaden the definition of science to recognize systems of knowledge that describe a relational, conscious, interactive universe and bring forward a 21st century science enriched by different ways of knowing. Upon its completion, The Sculpture Garden of Native Science and Learning will be given as a gift from the Indigenous Peoples to the worlds of science and education.

Previously, she worked with writer/critic/producer Ralph J. Gleason (co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine) on his film, television and writing projects; she studied at The American Conservatory Theater where she was awarded a fellowship to work with ACT founder, William Ball; she worked in television at KQED-TV-San Francisco, as an assistant producer, and founded a successful production company producing concerts, records, plays and corporate events.

As a visual artist she works primarily in oils, pastel chalks, video and film to create expressions of our shared consciousness and kinship with the natural world and to further her understanding of somatic learning. She is a wife, a mother of two sons, and an array of daughters gathered over a lifetime, she is grandmother of four, Will, Maizie Jean, big Hannah and bigger Hannah.


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