‘Forest Gardens’ Show How Native Land Stewardship Can Outdo Nature
By: Gabriel Popkin
Keywords: ethnobotany, functional diversity, forest garden, land management, scientific literature
This article begins with a presentation of new research which found that “Indigenous-created forest gardens of the Pacific Northwest support more pollinators, more seed-eating animals and more plant species than supposedly “natural” conifer forests surrounding them.” This counters the long-held belief of western scientists and land managers that ecological conservation requires the absence of people. The focal point of this new research is the analysis of forest gardens’ functional diversity, which captures an ecosystems ability to feed animals (among other measures). Compared to traditional measures of diversity, how many species are found in an ecosystem, functional diversity seems to be a better indictor of ecosystem health. This is demonstrated by the fact that these gardens have survived 150 years without maintenance. In addition to documenting these important findings, a goal of this paper, titled “Historical Indigenous Land Use Explains Plant Function Trait Diversity”, was to provide tribes with citable scientific literature that may be useful as they push for co-management and management agreements. The authors hope their research, by helping Indigenous communities use the land again, will bring the gardens back.
Advancing the national fish, wildlife, and plants climate adaptation strategy into a new decade
By: National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Network
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Key words: Climate adaptation, traditional ecological knowledge, Indigenous knowledges, adaptive management, invasive species, habitats, species migration
The authors of this report take a high-level review of what has changed in the field of climate change adaptation, how the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, published in 2012, has or has not been effectively implemented at federal, state, tribal, and nonprofit levels, and provide recommendations for its future update and implementation, including recommendations for adding an eighth goal.
Time to Indigenize Lands and Water Conservation
By: Melissa K. Nelson
Dec 22, 2020
Keywords: Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), United States, public lands, decolonization, conservation, stewardship, biocultural heritage, land management, ecological sustainability
Indigenous communities lead powerful counter movements against land colonization and to restore balance between people and place. A key part of this movement is decolonization, so that broken systems can be made whole and community connection restored. This involves recognizing land as nourishment as well as valuing dynamic processes and flows of energy. Native leadership is integral for land-based cultural practices grounded in TEK. Indigenous, holistic approaches need to be included in conservation movements in order to reimagine our methods in land stewardship.
A Conversation Across Ways of Knowing & Relating to Land
Panelists: Grandmother Katherine Whitecloud; the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Canada; the Honourable Harry Slade, former Chair of the Specific Claims Tribunal and Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court; co-management expert Dr. Fikret Berkes; and Anishinaabe Elder Dr. Dave Courchen; Dr. Nancy Turner
Reconciling Ways of Knowing
September 24, 2020
Key words: Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous knowledge keepers, western science, western scientific knowledge systems relationship to the land, ways of knowing, ways of being
This video presentation involves dialogue between Indigenous knowledge keepers and those who work within Western scientific knowledge systems. The focus of this conversation is on the relationship to the land and ways of knowing.
Why Reconciling Ways of Knowing?
Panelists: Elder Dr. Dave Courchene, Jr. - Nii Gaani Aki Innini; Miles Richardson, O.C. - Kilslaay Kaajii Sding; Dr. Nancy Turner; Dr. David Suzuki
* Moderated by Valérie Courtois
July 27, 2020
Key words: Listening, obligation, Indigenous thought, earth
This webinar begins and ends with prayer. The panelists speak to the need to listen to and care for mother earth. Modern practices of extraction and consumption are hurting her. By returning to Indigenous thought and obligation, we can attempt to heal the earth for future generations.
Rethinking Our Science: Blackfeet Metaphysics Waiting in the Wings
By: Leroy Little Bear
May 28, 2020
Indigenous Education Institute (Webinar)
Keywords: Blackfeet, Indigenous science, Western science, resilience
Dr. Little Bear begins by highlighting the opportunities for foundational changes in Western society presented by issues like the Covid-19 virus. He then enters into a fascinating discussion of the origins of scientific thought from Indigenous versus Western perspectives. He then discusses the implications of our current path, and finishes by suggesting ways in which the two world views can be reconciled, to the advantage of all.
How tribal wisdom can help climate science
By: Sophie Yeo
Jan. 6, 2020
Keywords: United Houma Nation, Menominee Tribe, Potawatomi Nation, U.S. Gulf Coast, climate change, climate knowledge
Tensions between western climate scientists and Indigenous communities can only be eased with respectful interactions over time. Use of an “extractive model” of research by western scientists can leave native communities feeling exploited. Researchers need to change the way they view their relationships with native communities and they way they view native knowledge. More ethical interactions may produce better science.
Understanding our environment requires an Indigenous world view
By: Raychelle Daniel
December 5, 2019
Key words: Alaska, Yup'ik, policy, western science, Indigenous knowledge, traditional ecological knowledge, just compensation, equity, biotic, abiotic, Marine Mammal Act
Labeled as an opinion piece, this article speaks to why western policy and science don't work as well as they could, especially when attempting to include Indigenous knowledge in Alaska. Policy makers are most often far removed from the species of concern and their models do not allow for the inclusion of pertinent Indigenous knowledge. For example, while western science takes into account population numbers to determine sustainable harvest levels, the hunter and his wife each bring specialized knowledge to better account for population numbers. He can speak to the type of ice and habitat preferred by the animal and she the diet and condition of the organs. The author proposed local policy-making, equity of power between western scientists and Indigenous knowledge holders, and just compensation for knowledge holders.
Merging Western Science With Native Knowledge to Combat Climate Change
By: Noah Glick
Nov. 4, 2019
Keywords: Climate change, drought, Pyramid Lake, threatened species, Pyramid Lake Paiute, Lahontan cutthroat trout, water
Climate change-related droughts are threatening native species at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation. The threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout are facing dropping water levels and changes in water chemistry. The Native Waters on Arid Lands Project is facilitating collaboration between tribes and scientists on issues such as water, fire and renewable energy.
“Two-eyed seeing” supports wildlife health
By: Susan Kutz and Matilde Tomaselli
Science, Vol. 364, Issue 6446
June 21, 2019
Keywords: Canada, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Indigenous peoples, conservation, participatory epidemiology, western science, caribou, ecological changes, muskox, qualitative, quantitative, local knowledge, bowhead whale
Indigenous peoples have been observing wildlife for many generations and their insights can assist western scientists in monitoring the health of wild populations. This is an example of the “One Health” approach, which contextualizes animals within the complexities of their environment, including human influences. Examples include monitoring caribou herds, and bowhead whale populations.
Meet the scientists embracing traditional Indigenous knowledge
By: Jimmy Thomson
June 20, 2019
Key words: Western science, trust, responsibility, caribou, whales, collaboration, consent, hunting, grizzly bears, Indigenous languages, Alaska, Canada, species distinctions
This article explores ways in which Western scientists are working with Indigenous peoples including Dene, Heiltsuk First Nation, Wuikinuxv First Nation, and Gwich’in in increasingly collaborative and respectful ways, recognizing rights to say “no” while informing for consent, building trust, and respecting the knowledge Indigenous peoples have cultivated. The Dene, for example, delineate a subcategory of caribou not currently named in Western science. The presence of words to connote distinctions in Indigenous languages represents the separations and can give clues as to ecological variations previously undescribed by Western science.
What Conservation Efforts Can Learn from Indigenous Communities: A Major U.N.-backed Report Says that Nature on Indigenous Peoples' lands is Degrading less Quickly than in Other Areas
By: Annie Sneed
May 29, 2019
Key words: Indigenous rights, land use, climate change, collaboration, Western science vs. traditional knowledge
This article discusses the differences in the biodiversity levels found on indigenous lands through out the world compared to the western conservation efforts. The article explains how indigenous communities have a closer connection that allows them to adapt to changes in the environment and make better decisions as to how to manage the land. The article is a call for more recognition and adoption of traditional ecological management processes.
Restore Indigenous land rights to unlock traditional knowledge and repair ecosystems
By: Julie Mollins
May 27, 2019
Key words: Indigenous rights, land use, climate change, collaboration, colonization, Western science vs. traditional knowledge
Indigenous knowledge can give important insights into solutions of changing environments and climates, but their rights need to be protected in the collaborative process. A major informant of the article is Reynaldo Morales who warns that Western science has predominantly compartmentalized traditional knowledge systems and has claimed authority over them. Integrative university programs and UN protection for Indigenous rights are cited as potential solutions towards improved conservation, restoration, and land use management.
An uneasy alliance: Indigenous Traditional Knowledge enriches science
By: George Nicholas
Feb. 18, 2019
Key words: science, Indigenous Knowledge
The short article clarifies the author’s previous viewpoint that Western science can be strengthened by collaboration with Indigenous peoples. The two systems of knowledge production are complementary and one can help to clarify, provide hypotheses, and offer alternative viewpoints to the other. Additionally, the author the author explores anti-scientific sentiments and the subjectivity of both systems as set within their own historical time period.
Ecocultural Equality in the Miwko? Waali?
By: Don L. Hankins
San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, 16(3)
Key words: Plains Valley Miwok, San Joaquin Delta, Delta smelt, sustainability, ecological grief, functional systems, fisher, orca, salinity, water, tribal trust responsibility, endangered species,stewardship, restoration, western science
Despite the tribal trust responsibility, the federal agencies and state agencies have largely failed to involve the Miwko? in the recovery of the San Joaquin Delta. Manmade reservoirs and irrigation infrastructure as well as human needs have influenced efforts for restoration, ignoring the traditional information and values the Miwko? can provide. Their moiety system has a management process akin to laws that guides uses and protects the resources. The Miwko? understand that to heal the delta, the reaches of the ecosystem are greater than that determined by western scientists, including species such as the Orca and the fisher, which reside in the ocean and mountains, respectively. Other issues, such as the need for fluctuating salinity levels, are topics that the Miwko? could help western scientists understand. While the delta may never return to pre-contact functionality, involvement of the Miwko? could help in preparing the ecosystem for impending sea level rise.
Native American Perspectives on Health and Traditional Ecological Knowledge
By: Gwyneria Isaac, Symma Finn, Jennie R. Joe, Elizabeth Hoover, Joseph P. Gon, Clarita Lefthand-Begay, and Stewart Hill
Environmental Health Perspectives, 126(1): 125002-1 - 125002-10
Key words: Health, health and cultural research groups, environment
Health and Cultural Research Groups (HCRG) have been looking at the health of Native Americans and others, however, without regards to traditional knowledge (TEK) or culture. TEK is a framework that relies on multiple fields’ cooperation, which can yield more information when used with HCRG. Through examples found in TEK studies using food systems, health and medicinal uses, researchers are able to gain a better insight into the health of the community. Through the integration of a TEK framework HCRG would be able to gain cross-cultural disciplinary approaches, include the Native American population more in research, and be able to locally address the knowledge that includes, physical, mental and environmental health.
Indigenous Knowledge for Climate Change Assessment and Adaptation
Edited By: Douglas Nakashima,, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), France , Igor Krupnik, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC , Jennifer T. Rubis, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), France
Cambridge University Press
Key words: Climate change, collaboration, adapt, changing environments, policy
This book, written by Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, scientists, and experts on development, explores the insights traditional knowledge can provide towards understanding rapidly changing climates and environments. Each group’s knowledge may have potential for global impact on policies towards climate adaptations.
Loss of bird species hampers forecasting for Zimbabwe’s farmers
By: Andrew Mambondiyani
Thomson Reuters Foundation News
Sep. 24, 2018
Key words: Birds, rain, drought, weather, farming, traditional knowledge, climate
Birds that small-scale farmers have traditionally depended on to predict weather patterns have become very rare in Zimbabwe. More drought and fires have pushed birds like the southern ground hornbill out of the area which has contributed to indigenous people’s means of forecasting now being less dependable.
Lessons Learned from Centuries of Indigenous Forest Management
By: Richard Schiffman
Yale Environment 360
August 20, 2018
Key words: Forestry, Brazil, tropical forests, slash and burn, harvesting, agriculture
This article is presented in interview form to discuss western scientists learning tropical forest managment from Indigenous peoples.
Why Indigenous Studies Matter for Natural Sciences Students
By: Joanna Hughes
Aug. 16, 2018
Keywords: Conservation, western science, stewardship, collaboration
The article encourages students of the natural sciences to remember the importance of indigenous knowledge. Indigenous peoples work with scientists to share traditional ecological knowledge that has been honed over generations and allows for increased stewardship of natural resources. Indigenous knowledge should be integrated into university programs and Western scientists need to collaborate with indigenous groups towards conservation efforts.
WSB: Integrating traditional knowledge and wildlife work
By: Julia John
The Wildlife Society
July 19, 2018
Keywords: Integration, collaboration, cultural revitalization, conservation, language
TEK needs to be integrated with Western science as they are not in competition nor hierarchically positioned but could both contribute to conservation efforts and cultural and linguistic revitalization movements.
Native Knowledge: What Ecologists Are Learning from Indigenous People
By: Jim Robbins
Yale Environment 360
April 26, 2018
Key words: Alaska, holistic view, artic, Finland, TEK, traditional wisdom, Australia, climate change, environmental change, fire, Mesoamerica
Ecologists gain surprising insights from indigenous peoples. From the counter-intuitive relationship between beavers and whales, to population and migration tracking, TEK has added invaluably to western science. Beyond highlighting the utility of these partnerships, the author calls for western science practitioners to respect the lifeways and perspectives of indigenous peoples. Seeing that their cultures are valued and respected is an important part of the process.
Considerations for Culturally Sensitive Traditional Ecological Knowledge Research in Wildlife Conservation
By: Seafha C. Ramos
Wildlife Society Bulletin, 9999
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
March 27, 2018
Key words: Canada, federal legislation, environmental impacts, Assembly of First Nations, Bill C-69
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.
TEK: Another way of understanding our natural world
By: Dr. John Morton
Posted March 16, 2018
Key words: Alaska, Chugachmuit, fish, berries
A group of elders is providing traditional ecological knowledge and recent observations in an effort to develop educational curricula.
The Conversation: Science is catching up with indigenous knowledge
By: George Nicholas
Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Interesting article about animals' use of tools that has been acknowledged by indigenous peoples for centuries and just recently acknowledged by western scientists.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge: A Different Perspective on Environmental Health
By: Nate Seltenrich
Environmental Health Perspectives
19 January 2018
Key words: Tribal epidemiology, traditional medicine, Navajo
The authors highlight the value of Traditional Ecological Knowledge to Tribal epidemiology and medicine.
A Critical Review of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in Science Education
By: Eun-Ji Amy Kim, Anila Asghar, and Steven Jordan
Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education
Key words: TEK, Indigenous Knowledge, Western Science, pedagogy, education, misrepresentation
The authors present a critique of TEK as it is often understood; TEK and Indigenous Knowledge (IK) are not the same. TEK, they argue, is a term first used by Western scientists and it attempts to fit Indigenous ways of knowing into the mold of Western understanding. As such, TEK is “distilled” and “packaged” Indigenous knowledge that can lead to misrepresentations and works to colonize education. The authors consider how TEK is used in pedagogical applications in science education and conclude that Indigenous knowledge and Western knowledge should be able to be harmonious.
Video: A Record of Change: Science and Tribal Elders
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
August 25, 2017
Key words: Oral histories, water levels, desertification
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: Theresa Braine
Indian Country Today
July 25, 2017
Key words: Traditional marine knowledge, rising sea levels, climate change adaptation
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.
Indigenous knowledge crucial to tackling climate change, experts say
By: Zoe Tabary
Thomson Reuters Foundation News
June 28, 2017
Key words: Climate forecasting, displacement, crop diversity, Peru, Andes, importance of cities, integration
Indigenous farmers look to weather patterns to know when to plant as well as avoid crop monocultures which are not as safe against climate change’s impacts. Governments should not ignore the importance of city living and cultural adaptations can give insights in how to live sustainably there as well.
The Importance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) When Examining Climate Change
By: Samantha Chisholm-Hatfield
Union of Concerned Scientists (Blog)
Keywords: climate change, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Pacific Northwest, Oregon, deer, insects, phenology sequencing, Great Basin
Too often, indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge has been ignored by Western science. TEK adds an important dimension to climate change discussions. TEK can extend back many generations and offer a broad perspective.
Mother Earthling: ESF educator Robin Kimmerer links an indigenous worldview to nature
By: Renee Gadoua
Syracuse New Times
October 19, 2016
Key words: Integrating western science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, environmental justice, climate change
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
Subsistence hunting, particpatory relationships, wildlife monitoring
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
Key words: Indigenous epistemologies, Local Ecological Knowledge, Indigenous knowledge systems, Inuit, Tibetan Plateau
This article discusses the importance of including local indigenous knowledge into environmental management frameworks. The article uses several examples to discuss how this knowledge can be beneficial and historical barriers to its use and integration by western land management authorities.
The Importance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Adaptation Planning
By: Margaret Hiza Redsteer, Preston Hardison, and Kyle Powys Whyte
Webinar, National Adaptation Forum
March 23, 2016
Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, climate change, adaptation
This webinar from 2016 includes three speakers who address the ways in which TEK can aid in adaptations to climate change. TEK and Western science can work together to seek solutions. TEK and western science are complementary ways of knowing.
A Bering Strait Indigenous Framework for Resource Management: Respectful Seal and Walrus Hunting
By: Lily Gadamus and Julie Raymond-Yakoubian
Volume 52, Issue 2, pages 87-101
Key words: Bering Strait, Inupiaq, Yup’ik, and St. Lawrence Island Yupik, Indigenous knowledge, traditional ecological knowledge, Indigenous resource management, Western science, Western resource management, respect, elder and youth relationship, hands-on training, marine mammals, seal hunting, walrus hunting
The authors of this study conducted research at the request of local, Indigenous communities. These communities are frustrated that Western governmental regulations often do not include local ways of resource management. The locally preferred framework of respect is better for sustainable resource management. Respect is given to the Elders, to each other, to the land, and to the mammals being used as sustenance. This report then looks at these relationships during seal and walrus hunting. Here is a permanent link: https://kawerak.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Respectful-hunting-article.pdf
Tribal-Traditional Ecological Knowledge
By Ron W. Goode
Tribal Chairman, North Fork Mono Tribe
Key words: Fire, dreaming, Australia, California, traditional ecological knowledge, wilderness, spirituality, responsibility
“They Don't Know How We Live”: Understanding Collaborative Management in Western Alaska
By: Kevin Andrew Bartley
The University of Alaska Anchorage
Key words: Fishing, Indigenous Knowledge, native collaboration, Alaska
This thesis discusses some of the issues that indigenous populations have faced with their involvement with non-native collaborators, focusing on Alaskan Native populations and resources. The thesis goes into why native collaboration has declined in recent years due to the tribes feeling as if their input did not matter to the conservation efforts that were being put in place. It then goes into possible ways in which the relationships between collaborators and the native population groups might be fixed.
The Retention, Revival, and Subjugation of Indigenous Fire Knowledge through Agency Fire Fighting in eastern Australia and California
By: Christine Eriksen and Don L. Hankins
University of Wollongong, Research Online
Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, retention, wildland firefighting, trust, Australia, California, integration, cultural burning, political constructs, cross-cultural acceptance, fire, stewardship, sacred sites, knowledge holders, timing, gender, oppression, privilege
Decades of fire suppression in Australia and western USA have worked against the laws of nature. Indigenous knowledge about the use and role of fire in ecosystems has been lost or suppressed by western fire fighting regimes. State and federal fire policies have alternately retained, revived, and subjugated traditional fire knowledge. The article discusses how western fire regimes concentrate on risk to people and property; whereas, Indigenous fire stewardship includes protection of sacred sites, health of the environment, and timing for traditional foods and cultural practices. The larger concept of stewardship meets the need for reduced risk to people and property.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK): An Interview with Dr. Michael Hutchins
By: Jordan Carlton Schaul
National Geographic Blog
January 11, 2014
Key words: Indigenous peoples, wildlife, megafauna
The author poses questions to Dr. Huchins about large-scale hunting of megafauna, description of TEK and examples, transition from subsistence to market economy, and experiences with Native peoples.
On the role of traditional ecological knowledge as a collaborative concept: a philosophical study
By: Kyle Powys Whyte
April 5, 2013
Keywords: Traditional ecological knowledge, epistemology, environmental philosophy
Differences in the way TEK is defined cause confusion and stem from underlying assumptions regarding the nature and validity of differing knowledge systems. These differences can have real-world consequences for who is deemed to have standing for issues of environmental governance. The author argues that TEK can be most usefully seen as a collaborative concept. Rather than arguing over definitions, Whyte proposes that scholars and policy leaders, “should focus more on creating long term processes that allow the different implications of approaches to knowledge in relation to stewardship goals to be responsibly thought through.”
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
Key words: Environmental change detection, climate change adaptation, American Indians, Alaska Natives
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
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
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
Key words: Ecological restoration, monitoring, partnership, reference ecosystems, species selection
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
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
Key words: Collaborative research, cooperative land management
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
Key words: Local ecological knowledge, fishers’ knowledge, management of
fisheries, jurisdiction, perceived credibility
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.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Application by Service Scientists
By: Sarah Rinkevich, Kim Greenwood, Crystal Leonetti
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Key words: Western science and TEK, TEK’s influence on trajectory of western science, TEK collection methods, polar bears, climate change
The origins of Western biology has been influenced by TEK, as scientists such as Darwin, Merriam, and Linnaeus were aware of the vast knowledge of local people. Today, traditional knowledge has aided the Fish and Wildlife Service in claiming threatened status for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act, monitor fish populations, and recognize how environments change as the climate changes. The authors give tips to potential researchers on methodologies and considerations prior to beginning data collection.
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
Key words: Co-management, fishing poisons, Indigenous ecological knowledge, invasive fish, knowledge socialization
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
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.
Linking Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge of Climate Change
By: Clarence Alexander, Nora Bynum, Elizabeth Johnson, Ursula King, Tero Mustonen, Peter Neofotis, Noel Oettle, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Chie Sakakibara, Vyacheslav Shadrin, Marta Vicarelli, Jon Waterhouse, Brian Weeks
June 1, 2011
Keywords: Climate change, TEK, combining TEK and Western science
Derived from a conference panel on climate change sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, this paper draws on the expertise of Indigenous leaders, climate change impact scientists and scholars of Indigenous knowledge. Discusses connections among Indigenous climate-related narratives, documented temperature changes, and a literature review of climate change impact studies. Authors propose a framework for synthesizing Indigenous climate change with global assessments from Western science.
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
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
Key words: Arctic, Inuit, protected area, Chen caerulescens atlantica, Traditional Ecological Knowledge
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
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
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
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
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
Key words: Cultivation, fire, GIS, land-cover change, landscape ecology
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
Key words: Mae Tho National Park, Royal Forestry Department, park-people conflict, Thailand
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
Key words: Cultural keystone species, Thuja plicata, Porphyra abbottiae, Sagittaria spp., elements of cultural keystone
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
Key words: Globalization, knowledge gap, formal education
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
Key words: State management system, forest management, western science, TEK
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
Key words: Sustainable egg-harvesting, resource management, criticisms of TEK, conservation biology, Huna, Tlingit
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
Key words: Belief system, conservation, ecology, environment, Indian, Indigenous, Native American, resource management, Traditional Ecological Knowledge
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
Key words: Restoration design, native species, Traditional Ecological Knowledge
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
Key words: Traditional Knowledge, sheep, wildlife management, hunting, elders
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.
Dismantling the Divide Between Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge
By: Arun Agrawal
Development and Change
Keywords: epistemology, western science, Indigenous knowledge
Discusses the rise of interest in Indigenous knowledge, the ways proponents attempt to reify it, the epistemological difficulties in separating Western science from Indigenous knowledge, the inherent colonialism of studying Indigenous knowledge, and suggestions for more productive engagement. This author is not critical of TEK per se, rather he questions some of the basic assumptions that he claims proponents of TEK have made. According to Agrawal, proponents of TEK undermine their own arguments because they insist on differentiating TEK from Western science using Western modes of analysis, thus removing the separation for which they are arguing.
Indigenous Knowledge for Biodiversity Conservation
By: Madhav Gadgil, Fikret Berkes and Carl Folke
Keywords: Biodiversity, traditional knowledge, ecosystems services, ecological resilience
Describes the buffering role served by understory species when ecosystems are stressed. Also examines the role played by Indigenous peoples to create and sustain this critical biodiversity, as they manipulate their environments through plant selection, fire and other means. The authors argue that the diachronic nature of the traditional knowledge held by Indigenous communities is more relevant to maintaining biodiversity than Western science, and thus should be preserved.
Last updated: October 4, 2021