Native scientists, educators and physicians from Oklahoma State University’s Center for Health Sciences and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History are directing a program to strengthen the knowledge of science, medicine and Native culture and to promote and increase the number of American Indians in science and medicine.

The program begins in Tulsa, on the campus of OSU’s Center for Health Sciences with the exploration of anatomy, vertebrate paleontology, wilderness survival, and osteopathic medicine.

On campus activities will prepare students for the scientific excursion that will take place off-campus at select ecoregions in Oklahoma (Ozark Highlands, Boston Mountains, Central Great Plains and Cross Timbers).

Activities for the program include collecting vertebrate fossil remains (e.g., horse, rhinos, camels, cats and dogs), exploring museums and archeological sites, and learning about the history and culture of the Native people that inhabited Oklahoma over the past 10,000 years.

Participants will learn about the modern plants and animals that occur in select ecoregions of Oklahoma, and will build professional networks in science, medicine and culture while gaining guidance for career choices and strengthening cultural backgrounds.

“Ultimately, you will learn how Native cultures are interlaced with the natural world and medicine while creating lifelong professional networks and friendships,” said Kent Smith, Ph.D., Associate Dean of American Indians in Medicine and Science. “This unique opportunity will expose you to careers in graduate, medical and federal programs, state agencies and the sovereign Nations.”

The program runs from May 21 to June 1, and Native traditions and culture will be an integral part of the program’s activities.

All applications and letters of support, are due March 1, (received). Successful applicants will be notified by email by March 8. Program participants may be eligible to earn three hours of college credit.

Program participants will learn how to identify fossil remains and will be introduced to equipment used by vertebrate paleontologists while working with culturalists, archeologists, geologists and biologists from the Chickasaw and Cherokee Nations, National Park Service and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to learn protocols for natural resource management and preservation and protection of historic sites.

The Chickasaw Nation, Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Whitten-Burrage Law Firm, Native Explorers Foundation and OSU-CHS have funded the Native Explorers program. 

To apply to the program, or for more information on the program, persons interested may contact the Native Explorers Foundation at