Methods for Learning TEK

A tribal member identifies plants at Fort Laramie National Historic Site.
A tribal member studies plants at Fort Laramie National Historic Site.


Traditional knowledge and western science both use observations and experiences to answer questions about the physical world.
Dr. Selso Villegas, Tohono O'odham Nation

Western science methods for learning TEK derive from the social sciences, especially Cultural Anthropology.

The National Park Service has qualified cultural anthropologists on staff who have experience using these methods and can help you develop TEK projects to enhance your work. In addition, TEK projects can be conducted by staff at tribal colleges and Cooperative Ecosystem Study Units (CESUs), as well as by contractors. TEK projects should be conducted by a professional.

Below are some of the methods that a professional TEK researcher will use. While a researcher may not use all of these methods, more than one method should be employed. Click on these links for an overview of these methods:

Last updated: August 14, 2017