TEK vs Western Science

Considerations for Culturally Sensitive Traditional Ecological Knowledge Research in Wildlife Conservation
By: Seafha C. Ramos
Wildlife Society Bulletin, 9999
April 2018
Key words: culturally sensitive, Indigenous science, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Western science, wildlife conservation, wildlife management, spirituality
This article discusses the historical and contemporary contexts of the wildlife profession in Indian Country, western and Indigenous philosophies of science and TEK, and suggestions for culturally sensitive TEK studies.

Quebec deputy minister gets pushback after questioning place of indigenous "tradtional knowledge"
By: Graeme Hamiliton
National Post
March 27, 2018
Key words: Canada, federal legislation, environmental impacts, Assembly of First Nations, Bill C-69
http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/quebec-deputy-minister-gets-pushback-after-questioning-place-of-indigenous-traditional-knowledge
A Quebec environmental official faces backlash after he questioned how TEK should be weighed against western science. An internal letter that the deputy minister authored was released to the public and drew criticism from Indigenous leaders, two cabinet ministers, and a University of Ottawa law professor.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge: A Different Perspective on Environmental Health
By: Nate Seltenrich
Environmental Health Perspectives
19 January 2018
https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/ehp2391/
The authors highlight the value of Traditional Ecological Knowledge to Tribal epidemiology and medicine.

Video: A Record of Change: Science and Tribal Elders
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
August 25, 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47ufP_a9hPE
A Record of Change—Science and Elder Observations on the Navajo Nation is a 25-minute documentary about collaborative studies using conventional physical sciences, combined with tribal elder observations to show that local knowledge and conventional science partnerships can effectively document ecosystem change and determine the resulting challenges to livelihoods.

Shinnecock Bring Indigenous Science to Federal Ocean Policy
Long Island tribe part of team winning 2017 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Solutions
By:
Indian Country Today
July 25, 2017
https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/environment/shinnecock-indigenous-science-ocean-policy/?mqsc=ED3900094
Through collaboration and valuing of indigenous science, Shinnecock Nation, Pamunkey Tribe and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body received the 2017 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Solutions.

Mother Earthling: ESF educator Robin Kimmerer links an indigenous worldview to nature
By: Renee Gadoua
Syracuse New Times
October 19, 2016
http://www.syracusenewtimes.com/mother-earthling/
Robin Kimmerer is a Native American ESF (Environmental Science and Forestry) professor. She founded the ESF’s Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, to connect traditional ecological knowledge with scientific ecological knowledge, and received the ESF’s Feinstone Environmental Award on October 26, 2016. This article describes Kimmerer’s work and her insistence on uniting traditional and “scientific” ecological knowledge because, “scientific knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) are not in conflict, and the answers to challenges like climate change lie at the nexus of the two.”

What Indigenous Communities are Teaching Scientists about Nature
Vox. Originally published on Ensia.
Updated by Ben Goldfarb

https://www.vox.com/2016/6/5/11852762/native-indigenous-science-environment


Bridging Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge: Local ecological knowledge must be placed at the center of governance
JAYALAXSHMI MISTRY, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK. ANDREA BERARDI, Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK.
Science, Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1274-1275;DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf116
10 Jun 2016

Indigenous frameworks for observing and responding to climate change in Alaska
By: Patricia Cochran, Orville H. Huntington, Caleb Pungowiyi, Stanley Tom, F. Stuart Chapin III, Henry P. Huntington, Nancy G. Maynard, and Sarah F. Trainor

published online at Springer Science
26 March 2013
Key words: climate change, western science, facts, indigenous knowledge, relationships, Alaska, permafrost, coastal erosion
This paper provides Indigenous frameworks for addressing climate change in Alaska and provides readers with some points for western science researchers to consider when working with Alaska Native communities.

Exploring the Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Climate Change Initiatives
By: Kristen Vinyeta & Kathy Lynn
USDA Forest Service
2013
This synthesis of literature is specifically focused on TEK in the context of climate change. A significant body of literature exists describing the use of TEK in natural and cultural resource management, as well as the similarities and differences between TEK and Western science. As academics, governments, and communities build their understanding of climate change impacts, an understanding of the role of TEK in identifying impacts and planning for and adapting to climate change and its relationship to Western Science is needed. This synthesis identifies literature that has begun to explore this relationship between TEK and climate change.

Interdisciplinarity, Native Resilience, and How the Riddles Can Teach Wildlife Law in an Era of Rapid Climate Change
By: Orville H. Huntington and Annette Watson
Wicazo SA Review
Fall 2012
Key words: climate change, Athabascans, oral tradition, western science, intellectual thought, spirituality
This paper is co-authored by a Native and non-Native who bring to it an interdisciplinary approach that utilizes both Native and western traditions to discuss impacts of climate change.

Indigenous Climate Knowledges
By: Heather A. Smith & Karyn Sharp
Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 5(3):467-476
2012
Key words: Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
This article describes, assesses, and explains the growing status of indigenous knowledges (IKs) in climate science and politics. Informed by a critical environmental perspective we review the literature on traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), explore the contested nature of this concept, and identify the numerous epistemological obstacles to the appropriate and respectful inclusion of traditional ecological knowledge.

Contribution of Traditional Knowledge to Ecological Restoration: Practices and Applications (Review Article)
By: Yadav Uprety, Hugo Asselin, Yves Bergeron, Frédérik Doyon, Jean-François Boucher
Ecoscience, 19(3):225-237
2012
Key words: Ecological Restoration, Monitoring, Partnership, Reference Ecosystems, Species Selection
http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.2980/19-3-3530
Traditional knowledge has become a topic of considerable interest within the research and development environment. The contribution of traditional knowledge to conservation and management is increasingly recognized, and implementation endeavors are underway in several countries. The current scale of ecosystem degradation underscores the need for restoration interventions. It is increasingly recognized that successful ecological restoration depends on effective coordination of science and traditional ecological knowledge. This paper synthesizes the literature to evaluate the present and potential contribution of traditional knowledge to ecological restoration.

Does Science Replace Traditions? Correlates between Traditional Tibetan Culture and Local Bird Diversity in Southwest China
By: Xiaoli Shen, Sheng Li, Nyima Chen, Shengzhi Li, William J McShea, & Zhi Lu
Biological Conservation, 145:160-170
2012
Key words: Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Scientific Ecological Knowledge, Traditional Practice Index, Knowledge-Attitudes-Behaviors, Point Count
A positive relationship between traditional cultures and biodiversity exists worldwide, but when traditional and formal conservation institutions coexist, how they interact and affect biodiversity remains poorly studied. From 2005 to 2007, the authors studied the relationship between Tibetan traditional practices and biodiversity. Specifically, how traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and scientific ecological knowledge (SEK) affect local biodiversity by affecting people’s attitudes and behaviors towards conservation.

Native Perspectives on Sustainability
By: Dennis Martinez
Indigenous Forum, co-produced with the Cultural Conservatory; Bioneers National Conference
2012
Key words: collaborative research, cooperative land management
https://youtu.be/7sDAMfp19lU
Martinez repeatedly highlights the fundamental differences between TEK and Western science, but maintains that a partnership between stewards of both ways of knowing is essential to overcoming current issues.

Incorporation of Traditional and Local Ecological Knowledge and Values in Fisheries Management
By: ESSA Technologies Ltd.
Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council
2011
Key words: local ecological knowledge, fishers’ knowledge, management of
Fisheries, jurisdiction, perceived credibility

https://www.psf.ca/sites/default/files/ESSA%2520TLEK%2520report%2520May%25202011_0_20.pdf
This background report was developed to assist the Conservation Council in promoting TLEK use in resource management decisions. Due to the nature of the report, it spells out the methods and rationale in more explicit detail than many academic papers and would be useful as a resource or reference in learning research methodologies.

Is Validation of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge a Disrespectful Process? A Case Study of Traditional Fishing Poisons and Invasive Fish Management from the Wet Tropics, Australia
By: Monica Gratani, James R. A. Butler, Frank Royee, Peter Valentine, Damien Burrows, Warren I Canendo, & Alex S. Anderson
Ecology and Society, 16(3):25
2011
Key words: Co-management, Fishing Poisons, Indigenous Ecological Knowledge, Invasive Fish, Knowledge Socialization
https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol16/iss3/art25/
Despite the growing recognition of the contribution that indigenous ecological knowledge (IEK) can make to contemporary ‘western’ science-based natural resource management (NRM), integration of the two knowledge systems has not reached its full potential in Australia. In this paper authors assess the opportunities and limitations of validation processes using a case study of traditional fishing poisons for invasive fish management in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area of Australia.

Interdisciplinary Progress in Approaches to Address Social-Ecological and Ecocultural Systems
By: Jules Pretty
Environmental Conservation, 38(2):127-139
2011
Key words: Ecocultures, Interdisciplinarity, Local Knowledge, Resilience, Revitalization
The emergent human cultures have shaped, and in turn been shaped by, local ecosystems. Yet humanity’s intense modification of the environment has resulted in dramatic worldwide declines in natural and cultural capital. Social-ecological systems are becoming more vulnerable through the disruption of livelihoods, governance, institutions, resources and cultural traditions. This paper reviews the environmental sub-disciplines that have emerged to seek solutions for conservation and maintenance of the resilience of social-ecological systems.

Best of Two Worlds: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western Science in Ecosystem-Based Management
By: David Adam Lertzman
Journal of Ecosystems and Management, 10(3):104-126
2010
Key words: Clayoquot Sound, Coastal Temperate Rainforest, Cultural Literacy, Ecosystem-Based Management, Epistemology
Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is a rising paradigm in resource management. Social scientists agree that EBM necessitates a natural sciences foundation yet its human dimensions are less understood; a greater role for the social sciences is needed. One underutilized area is inquiry into how different cultural traditions order their universe to derive meaning and values from ecosystems in a manner directive for human behavior. This framework is applied to the Scientific Panel for Sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot Sound whose membership included Nuu-Chah-Nulth elders and forest scientists.

Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Ecological Science: a Question of Scale
By: Catherine A Gagnon & Dominique Bertaeux
Ecology and Society, 14(2):19
2009
Key words: Arctic, Inuit, Protected Area, Chen caerulescens atlantica, Traditional Ecological Knowledge
https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss2/art19/
The benefits and challenges of integrating traditional ecological knowledge and scientific knowledge have led to extensive discussions over the past decades, but much work is still needed to facilitate the articulation and co-application of these two types of knowledge. Through two case studies, they examined the integration of traditional ecological knowledge and scientific knowledge by emphasizing their complementarity across spatial and temporal scales.

Ecology and the Social Sciences
By: Philip Lowe, Geoff Whitman, & Jeremy Phillipson
Journal of Applied Ecology, 46:297-305
2009
Key words: Cross-Disciplinarily, Interdisciplinary, Ecology, Ecologists, RELU, Social Science
The urgency and complexity of current environmental problems require ecologists to engage in cross-disciplinary research with social scientists, among others. This study explores what ecologists expect from such cross-disciplinary engagements, through a review of editorial statements in key ecological journals and an empirical survey of ecologists working with social scientists.

Missing in Translation: Maori Language and Oral Tradition in Scientific Analyses of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)
By: Priscilla M. Wehi, Hemi Whaanga, & Tom Roa
Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39(4):201-204
2009
http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/handle/10289/3460
Recent conceptual shifts in ecology towards integration of humans into ecosystems requires all possible sources of ecological knowledge available. Māori traditional ecological knowledge of natural systems (TEK) can add valuable ecological data to more conventional scientific studies as the former tends to be diachronic, based on a cumulative system of understanding the environment founded on observations and experience, while the latter is frequently synchronic, with experiments that may explore causal effects in ecological patterns.

Arctic Climate Change Discourse: The Contrasting Politics of Research Agendas in the West and Russia
By: Bruce C. Forbes & Florian Stammler
Polar Research, 28(1):28-42
2009
Key words: Arctic Russia, Nenets Nomads, Oil and Gas Development, Reindeer Herding, TEK
In this paper the authors explore how Western scientific concepts and attitudes towards indigenous knowledge, as they pertain to resource management and climate change, differ from the prevailing view in modern Russia. Western indigenous leaders representing the Inuit and Saami peoples are actively engaged in the academic and political discourse surrounding climate change, whereas their Russian colleagues tend to focus more on legislation and self-determination, as a post-Soviet legacy.

Why is Indigenous Local and Traditional Knowledge Important to Western Science?
By: Dennis Martinez
Society of the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
Salt Lake City, Utah Plenary Traditional Knowledge Round Table Introduction
2008
Martinez gives a broad historical and philosophical context for the Traditional Knowledge-Western science relationship and shows some of the ways that Traditional Knowledge and Western science could be complementary in addressing climate change and the other environmental challenges we all face.

Expert and Generalist Local Knowledge about Land-cover Change on South Africa’s Wild Coast: Can Local Ecological Knowledge Add Value to Science?
By: Nigel Chalmers & Christo Fabricius
Ecology and Society, 12(1):10
2007
Key words: Cultivation, Fire, GIS, Land-Cover Change, Landscape Ecology
http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss1/art10/
Local ecological knowledge (LEK) can shed light on ecosystem change, especially in under researched areas such as South Africa’s Wild Coast. However, for ecosystem planning purposes, it is necessary to assess the accuracy and validity of LEK, and determine where such knowledge is situated in a community, and how evenly it is spread. Furthermore, it is relevant to ask: does LEK add value to science, and how do science and local knowledge complement one another? Authors assessed change in woodland and forest cover in the Nqabara Administrative Area on South Africa’s Wild Coast between 1974 and 2001.

Spatial Organization of Environmental Knowledge: Conservation Conflicts in the Inhabited Forest of Northern Thailand
By: Robin Roth
Ecology and Society
2004
Key words: Mae Tho National Park, Royal Forestry Department, park-people conflict, Thailand
https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss3/art5/
Management at multiple levels of scale has proven difficult in this case study. This article explores the ways in which state-based and nation-based management scales overlap and conflict, along with ways in which the two can work together towards better TEK incorporation and local knowledge inclusion.

Cultural Keystone Species: Implications for Ecological Conservation and Restoration
By: Ann Garibaldi & Nancy Turner
Ecology and Society, 9(3):1
2004
Key words: Cultural Keystone Species, Thuja plicata, Porphyra abbottiae, Sagittaria spp., Elements of Cultural Keystone
https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss3/art1/
Ecologists have long recognized that some species, by virtue of the key roles they play in the overall structure and functioning of an ecosystem, are essential to its integrity; these are known as keystone species. In this paper, authors explore the concept of cultural keystone species, describe similarities to and differences from ecological keystone species, present examples from First Nations cultures of British Columbia, and discuss the application of this concept in ecological restoration and conservation initiatives.

The Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Education for Community-Based Resource Management
By: Shaileshkumar Shukla and James S. Gardner, Indiana University
The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
2004
Key words: Globalization, knowledge gap, formal education
http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/dlc/handle/10535/979
Policy decisions based on a Western perspective can be adverse to regionally-focused ecological conservation efforts. Community-based resource management can be a tool that lessons the adverse effects of an otherwise homogenizing policy. The complications that arise between Western science and TEK are extended into a discussion of the role of educational institutions that are based in Western science.

Problems with Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Contemporary Resource Management
By: G. Casimirri
XII World Forestry Congress
2003
Key words: State management system, Forest Management, western science, TEK
http://www.fao.org/docrep/ARTICLE/WFC/XII/0887-A3.HTM
The need to consolidate worldviews can complicate the process of a land management agency working with tribal partners, particularly if that agency defines TEK as an area subsumed under Western science. Many of the issues presented occur when the culture of Western science refuses to change to include tribal perspectives.

Huna Tlingit Traditional Environmental Knowledge, Conservation, and the Management of a “Wilderness” Park
By: Eugene S. Hunn, Darryll R. Johnson, Priscilla N. Russell, and Thomas F. Thornton
Current Anthropology, Volume 44, Supplement
2003
Key words: Sustainable egg-harvesting, resource management, criticisms of TEK, conservation biology, Huna, Tlingit
https://faculty.washington.edu/hunn/vitae/Huna_Tlingit_TEK_2003_CA.pdf
Some critics of TEK in Federal land management argue inequitable power dynamics in the Federal-Tribal partnership are unresolvable. Others argue that traditional cultures do not practice conservation, but instead are limited in their ability to overharvest and are unable to cause real harm. These arguments work toward the conclusion that TEK and Western science are incompatible. The authors respond to these criticisms both on their theoretical bases, and also in a practical setting, through an example of the Huna Tlingit egg harvesting practices in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge: The Third Alternative (Commentary)
By: Raymond Pierotti & Daniel Wildcat
Ecological Applications, 10(5): 1333-1340
2000
https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/handle/1808/16685
Contemporary Western attitudes concerning the management of natural resources, treatment of nonhuman animals, and the natural world emerge from traditions derived from Western European philosophy, i.e., they assume that humans are autonomous from, and in control of, the natural world. A different approach is presented by Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of indigenous peoples of North America. This article discusses the role of TEK in terms of belief systems, connectedness, multidisciplinary, and sense of place when discussing conservation.

Native Knowledge for Native Ecosystems
By: Robin Wall Kimmerer
Journal of Forestry, 98(8):4-9
2000
http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/saf/jof/2000/00000098/00000008/art00005
In an effort to restore forest health and diversity, federal agencies are calling for management practices directed toward a "return to the presettlement equilibrium." Restoring forests to that presettlement structure and function is not possible without also understanding the relationship between the indigenous inhabitants and the land. Indigenous knowledge systems have much to offer in the contemporary development of forest restoration. Although Native peoples' traditional knowledge of the land differs from scientific knowledge, both have strengths that suggest the value of a partnership between them.

The Politics of TEK: Power and the “Integration” of Knowledge
By: Paul Nadasdy
Arctic Anthropology, 36(1-2):1-18
1999
Key words: Traditional Knowledge, Sheep, Wildlife Management, Hunting, Elders
https://anthropology.cornell.edu/sites/anthro/files/Nadasdy%201999%20Politics%20of%20TEK%20new.pdf
This paper takes a critical look at the project of “integrating” traditional knowledge and science. The project of integration has been and continues to be the cornerstone of efforts to involve northern aboriginal peoples in processes of resource management and environmental impact assessment over the past 15 years.

Last updated: June 19, 2018