University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu Associate Professor of Mathematics Kamuela Yong wrote an article about Indigenous mathematicians that was published this month in the world’s most widely read magazine aimed at professional mathematicians.
Yong’s “Indigenous Peoples Exist Within Mathematics” piece ran in the April edition of “Notices of the American Mathematical Society,” which provides opportunities for mathematicians and students of mathematics to find out what is going on in their field, and contains high-level expository articles written by STEM professionals in industry and academia.
“This article is to let our community know that we exist and should not be dismissed,” Yong said. “When it comes to reporting, Indigenous people are often grouped with other groups or redacted due to low numbers which makes it nearly impossible to identify how many people in mathematics identify as Indigenous.”
Yong was part of a team that founded and launched in December 2020 the website, Indigenous Mathematicians, a community for people who identify as indigenous in the mathematical sciences. The site seeks to put together all the known information about Indigenous mathematicians.
“As the first Native Hawaiian to earn a Ph.D. in Applied Math, I did not have many mentors who looked like me,” Yong said in a January 2021 article about the website. “In fact, it wasn’t until a few months ago did I learn that Edwin Moʻokini was the only Native Hawaiian to earn a Ph.D. in math until me. There are many people who share similar stories of not knowing other people with their background and because of this, we created Indigenous Mathematicians.”
The site highlights the works of Indigenous mathematicians, including Native American, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and Chamorro mathematicians.
“Before we started Indigenous Mathematicians, many of us had been years into our careers before we met another Indigenous person in mathematics,” Yong said, regarding his piece that ran in the “Notices” magazine. … “Many of us felt we were the only Indigenous people (in mathematics) when in reality, we have crossed paths at conferences but didn’t realize it.”
Yong continued, “We feel that we have reached most of the Indigenous mathematicians, but this article may help us reach those who we may not have known about, as well as to educate other mathematicians.”
For questions or to learn more about Indigenous Mathematicians, click here.