Summer camps with Pomo and Navajo math friends: June 2024 news

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Hello, math friend! I’m Dr. Maria Droujkova, director of Natural Math and co-president of the Natural Math Alliance. Please write me any time at if you have a question or would like to talk about learning advanced mathematics in kind ways.

Navajo Prep Math Camp 2024 group photo

AIMC Seal 2023Our partner Alliance of Indigenous Math Circles organized two summer camps this June. The first was at the beautiful and impressively curated California Indian Museum and Cultural Center in Santa Rosa. The second was at the Navajo Preparatory School, a high-quality academic and outreach hub at Farmington, NM.

The camps included a math festival, a problem-solving game called Math Wrangle, many deep-dive math sessions on topics from cryptography to mathematics of braids, and of course a lot of cultural activities. We will share more materials as we organize them for publication. Meanwhile, here are photos from the camps and two art projects for you, which we created with Pomo and Navajo people.

A weaver’s hands.

Everybody is weaving

Donna Fernandez, director of AIMC, and campers. “It doesn’t matter what tribe on the planet you are from; you all still made baskets. Everyone already has a basket in them and I’m just helping them to bring it out.” —Pomo basket weaver Corine Pearce.

A camper with her stick-and-bean game, exploring probability.

James Taylor, leader of Math Amigos, with the campers playing tic-tac-toe on a torus to explore the game of Set. “I learned that mathematical engagement has a “shape.” When a group of participants is thoroughly “hooked” by a problem, it is as if the center of the table they circle becomes a black hole, drawing them in, arching their backs as if in a deep huddle. When I see that shape, I know that students are hooked, so I stand back to give them space to let joyful mathematics progress.” Klein, B. (2019). Math unbounded: A transcultural experiment.

big math circle by hogan

Another familiar shape of collaborative mathematics: a big math circle by Navajo hogan house (see below).

Desert Sunset

Desert sunset.

Solstice Sunray

Math friends sharing a solstice. The optics of our camera caught the rays of the rising sun perfectly aligning with the walls of this Great Kiva, a Puebloans building from about 1000 years ago.

Geometries and their powers Hogan House Axioms Math Circle

The Navajo are Indigenous people of the Southwestern United States. Explore hogans, traditional Navajo dwellings known for their sturdy, sustainable, and comfortable designs. Learn to construct geometric shapes with hogan builders’ tools. Part 1 compares tools and axioms of different geometries. Part 2 focuses on the Navajo geometry. Click these links to download the materials.

Fractal dimension of Pomo baskets

The Pomo are Indigenous Californians. They are world-famous for their basket art. You can find gorgeous Pomo baskets in many major museums. They are also used for practical purposes in modern households. In this set of activities, you can learn about fractals and fractal dimensions using designs from Pomo artists. Click the link to download the materials.

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