West, broad region

Opportunities to utilize traditional phenological knowledge to support adaptive management of social-ecological systems vulnerable to changes in climate and fire regimes
By: Christopher A. Armatas, Tyron J. Venn, Brooke B. McBride, Alan E. Watson and Steve J. Carver
Ecology and Society, 21(1):16
The field of adaptive management has been embraced by researchers and managers in the United States as an approach to improve natural resource stewardship in the face of uncertainty and complex environmental problems. Integrating multiple knowledge sources and feedback mechanisms is an important step in this approach. Our objective is to contribute to the limited literature that describes the benefits of better integrating indigenous knowledge (IK) with other sources of knowledge in making adaptive-management decisions. Specifically, we advocate the integration of traditional phenological knowledge (TPK), a subset of IK, and highlight opportunities for this knowledge to support policy and practice of adaptive management with reference to policy and practice of adapting to uncharacteristic fire regimes and climate change in the western United States.

Can Traditional Knowledge Keep California from Going Up in Flames?
By: Sena Christian
August 17, 2022
Key words: Mechoopda Indian tribe of Chico Rancheria, Chico, CA, Calaveras County, TEK, megafire, drought, cultural burns, prescribed burns, wildfire risk reduction, governmental policy
Ali Meders-Knight, Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria member, leads cultural burns and incorporates TEK during efforts for public lands management and natural resources improvement. She is passionate about the role of fire and forest management in mitigating catastrophic wildfires. Over the past years, Meders-Knight formed the Chico Traditional Ecological Stewardship Program, partnered with Calaveras Healthy Impact Production Solutions (CHIPS), and testified before the U.S. House of Representatives committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Environment.

Living With Fire: What California Can Learn From Native Burns
By: Megan Botel
March 10, 2021
Huffington Post
Keywords:  Southern Sierra Miwok land, North Fork Mono Tribe, cultural burns, fire and land management, Native American Tradition, traditional ecological knowledge
After the U.S. government prohibited Native American tradition of intentional, cultural burnings in 1850, California is starting to implement these ideas as dangerous fire seasons become longer and more frequent. Over a century of fire suppression has negatively impacted the land and lead to massive amounts of dry brush accumulation. Before prohibition, the North Fork Mono tribe implemented regular, light burnings as part of a systemic, more holistic approach to land management. The land also becomes more robust against drought. Now, North Fork Mono tribal members teach federal and state employees as well as researchers and university faculty and students how to manage the land. The state of California and Forest Service have signed an agreement to thin or intentionally burn 1 million acres of woodland per year by 2025.

Summary Report from Tribal and Indigenous Communities within California
California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment

By: Ron Goode, Coordinating Author
Key words: California, Tribes, climate, traditional ecological knowledge, adaptation
This report discusses climate impacts to tribes as identified through western science and TEK. It also discusses how tribes are adapting to climate change and/or could adapt to climate change. The case studies illustrate strategies steeped in cultural insight, need, and applied traditional science.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge: An Important Facet of Natural Resources Conservation
By: M. Kat Anderson
USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center
Key words: Ethnobiology, natural resource management, controlled burns, tending plants, forests, field trials, conservation, Western science vs Native science, artifacts, historical literature, museums
This is the first of a series of “technical notes” written for the goal of reconstructing land use practices and managing resources by looking to ancient techniques. Examples are provided from cases in California, but the information concerning TEK’s importance and methods to revive it are broadly relevant. The notes explore how humans have played an essential role in ecosystems for millennia, and techniques through which practices can be re-accessed. Interviews, historical literature, analyzing artifacts held in museum collections, and conducting field trials to simulate cultural practices to understand conservation are ways through which this can be accomplished. The final page presents a graphic that compares Native and Western science.

Why Integrating Indigenous Voices is Key in Tackling Environmental Problems
By: Paige (Bardolph) Laduzinsky
November 1, 2018
Key words: TEK, California, western science, wildlife, gathering, healing
This article provides an overview of traditional ecological knowledge and the history of California tribes to introduce a television series. Tending Nature is a four episode series showing on KCET.

Cultural Fire and Restoration Practices (webinar)
By: Ron W. Goode
August 13, 2018
Key words: Fire, Sequioa National Park, U.S. Forest Service, North Fork Mono Tribe, blue oak, golden oak, yarrow, praying mantis, bark beetle, meadow
This webinar presentation by Ron Goode discusses cultural burning and monitoring afterwards to ensure the cultural burning has accomplished the goal. Mr. Goode also provides pointers for federal and state employees who want to work with a tribe to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into ecosystem management, so that projects will be successful.

Video- Tending the Wild: Complete Broadcast Special
KCETLink Media Group and the Autry Museum
1 hour
Keywords: TEK, vs. “science,” fire management and prevention, controlled burns, California, history, art, craft, basketry, fish, diet, health, decolonization, plants, medicines, land access and sovereignty, weaving, song, language, sustainability, cultural and linguistic revitalization
The video explores the TEK of Indian tribes in California and their struggles to access lands, plants, animals, and maintain, as well as revitalize, their cultural practices after centuries of oppression and racism, which continues today.

Bay Area Native Americans Granted Property Rights to Sacred Mountain

The board of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District voted unanimously to grant local Native Americans property rights to 36 acres at Mount Umunhum.

The Ancient Ecology of Fire, Lessons emerge from the ways in which North American hunter-gatherers managed the landscape around them
By: Antone Pierucci
September/October 2017
Key words: fire, land management, archaeology, Quiroste Valley, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band
When the Spanish arrived in the Quiroste Valley, they noted the use of fire on the landscape to manage woody species and promote growth of grasses and other food plants.Through archaeology, researchers were able to document the use of fire. Today, people undertake a project to remove excess woody vegetation and replace it with edible and medicinal plants.

Managing California Black Oak for Tribal Ecocultural Restoration
By: Jonathan W. Long, Ron W. Goode, Raymond J. Gutteriez, Jessica J. Lackey, and M. Kat Anderson
Journal of Forestry
September 2017
Key words: Black oak, traditional food, low-intensity fire, acorn gathering, California, Oregon, tribes
A collaborative effort led to the use of traditional ecological knowledge for burning in a manner to enhance acorn production from Black Oak, a species much preferred by tribes in California and Oregon.

Tending the Wild: Decolonizing the Diet
By: KCETLink Media Group and the Autry Museum in association with California
Key words: harvesting and maintaining native plants, food, traditions in food production, plant conservation, native plant gardening, medicines, health issues and benefits
The 15-minute film follows members of California’s native groups who cultivate, harvest, and cook native plants and foods in traditional ways with the hope that they, along with the environment from which they come, will be conserved.

Using TEK to model the effects of climate change and sea-level rise on coastal cultural resources at Tolowa Dunes State Park, Del Norte County, California
North Pacific LLC
This project obtained information regarding past catastrophic events, such as tsunamis, and TEK through oral history interviews with Tolowa elders regarding the effects of climate change and tsunamis on traditional smelt fishing camps; generated a GIS model of coastal inundation due to sea level rise and overlaid that with known archaeological and ethnographic resources; generated a final report with detailed information of past tsunami events, and modeled the potential effects of climate change and sea level rise on archaeological and ethnographic Tolowa sites using TEK and GIS based upon the results of this study.

Video - Here and Now
By: Open Space Council
18:20 minutes
November 12, 2015
Here and Now weaves together social justice, land conservation, human history, and scientific knowledge into a cohesive and moving story about what’s possible by working together. We learn about four innovative partnerships between Native Americans and land conservation organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Audiences will travel to mountain tops, valleys, and the coast to hear from local tribes, a working farm, a local land trust, an open space district, and a national land trust. We see how access to almost 1,000 acres of land in the Bay Area changes lives today and creates a new future.

Restoring California Black Oak to Support Tribal Values and Wildlife
By: Jonathan W. Long, Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Ron W. Goode, Frank K. Lake, and Carl N. Skinner
General Technical Report PSW-GTR-251
Key words: California, Black Oak, cultural burn, fire, acorns, traditional foods, forest management, wildlife habitat
Black oak is an important species to the cultures of California tribes. Traditional cultural burns can help with the productivity level of these trees, ensuring a crop for cultural uses and as well as for the needs of wildlife.

The stories hold water: Learning and burning in North Fork Mono homelands
By: Jared Dahl Aldern, and Ron W. Goode
Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society
Key words: land-based education; water; Indigenous narrative; Indigenous jurisdiction; forestry, California
The authors set out to accomplish a number of goals here. Primary among them is to represent the value and methodology of incorporating indigenous narrative into policy and educational materials. As these stories are rooted within a specific context in California, this article is useful in understanding the history and potential of application of TEK within the state, along with some of the dynamics that play out between California tribes, government agencies and educational programs.

Burning Down to the Village
By: Ron W. Goode
Eagle Eye Enterprises
May 2013
Key words: Fire, archaeology, archeology, Sierra Nevada watershed, climate change, Mono, Miwok, Yokotch, fire supression, restoration
This article discusses how fire, managed in an appropriate way, can reveal the past without damaging archaeological resources.

The effects of indigenous prescribed fire on riparian vegetation in central California
By: Don L. Hankins
Ecological Processes
Key words: California, prescribed fire, riparian, Wintun, Plains Miwok, willow, cottonwood, box elder, Santa Barbara sedge, creeping wild-rye, stinging nettle, mugwort
This scientific article speaks to interviewing tribal members about burning practices and then implementing a prescribed western science burn project to determine the effacacy of the tribes' traditional ecological knowledge. The article acknowledges that tribes scheduled burns throughout the year, depending on their management goals. The article concludes that the experiment proved the traditional ecological knowledge and suggests more research topics to be explored.

Chapter 4.2--Fire and Tribal Cultural Resources
By: Frank K. Lake and Jonathan W. Long
Science Sythesis to Support Socioecological Resilience in the Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade Range
General Technical Report PSW-GTR-247
This report discusses the importance of fire for tribal cultural resources, such as plants, fungi, and animals.

Video - Restoring a Meadow
By: Yosemite National Park
7:40 minutes
July 30, 2008
Local American Indians, park fire managers, and blackberry weeders team up to save a meadow in danger of losing its unique native plants.

Take care of the land and the land will take care of you: Traditional Ecology in Native California
By: Farrell Cunningham
Summer 2005
News from Native California
Key words: California, irrigation, language, songs, prayers, revitalization, re-learning, youth, plants, naming
Numerous efforts by Native Californian peoples to revitalize and re-learn their ancient knowledge are in effect and highlighted in this article. Traditional ecological knowledge is intertwined with language, songs, prayers, food, and crafts and, as the article demonstrates by looking at a variety of initiatives, there are a multitude of ways to work towards preservation and continuity. Language is paramount as place names could hold traditional knowledge of which plants are found there or plant names could hold clues as to plant uses. Projects that are discussed include the Maidu Cultural and Development Group, Hoopa Valley Irrigation System Project, Potawot Health village and Ku’ wah-dah-wilth Restoration Area, Indigenous Youth Foundation, Bishop Paiute Tribal Irrigation Program, and the Native American Traditional Plant Use Coalition, which manages sacred sites, creates centers for traditional plant use, and works to gain rights for access to plants. The Roundhouse Council teaches young people about basketmaking, gathering willows and herbs, and songs and prayers in the Maidu language while language revitalization efforts can be small-scale, too, as one man and his family seek to revitalize the Elem Xaytsunoo dialect of the Pomo language while working with its last fluent speaker.

Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources
By: Kat Anderson
University of California Press
Jun 14, 2005
John Muir was an early proponent of a view we still hold today—that much of California was pristine, untouched wilderness before the arrival of Europeans. But as this groundbreaking book demonstrates, what Muir was really seeing when he admired the grand vistas of Yosemite and the gold and purple flowers carpeting the Central Valley were the fertile gardens of the Sierra Miwok and Valley Yokuts Indians, modified and made productive by centuries of harvesting, tilling, sowing, pruning, and burning.

Great Basin
Bringing Science and Culture Together with Chokecherry Pudding
Native American student proves traditional chokecherry pudding is medicine

By: Sarah Sunshine Manning
Indian Country Today
June 12, 2017
Destany “Sky” Pete, a high school student of the Shoshone and Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Idaho and Nevada, with the help of Dr. Ken Cornell, a bio-chemistry professor at Boise State University, studied the medicinal properties of traditionally prepared chokecherries in fighting uterine cancer.

Understanding Native Cultural Dimensions of Climate Change in the Great Basin
By: Dr. Samantha Chisholm Hatfield
Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network
Key words: Climate change adaptation, species monitoring, Indian time
In a webinar, Dr. Samantha Chisholm Hatfield of Oregon State explains her research working with tribes associated with the Great Basin and how they adapt their behavior in response to climate change. Dr. Hatfield is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz and is also Cherokee.

Science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge Strategic Plan
By: Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative
June 2015
This plan is an in depth outline as to how the Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative aims to address topics and issues related to climate change and the interactions with the ecosystems. The plan outlines the need for community involvement to gather information. The Great Basin Landscape conservation Cooperative works with several partners on different tasks and the plan describes what each of those is and which partner is working on that section. The plan lists out how certain projects are scored based off of their criteria for funding and attention by the LCC.

Rocky Mountains
An Ethnobotanist & the Plants of Her People
By: 500 Women Scientists
August 1, 2020
Key Words: Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Bitterroot Salish, Crow Tribe, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Ethnobotany, Food Sovereignty, traditional foods
Rose Bear Don’t Walk, who is Bitterroot Salish and Crow Tribe, talks about being a Salish Scientist and how she became interested in the plants of her people. This interest led her to the University of Montana where she received her Master of Science. Ethnobotany brings together traditional knowledge and cultural customs with plants and how people use and interact with them. Rose knows the importance of food sovereignty for Indigenous communities. She will be launching a project online called Salish Plant Society in early 2022.

Earthkeepers: Revering, Recovering the Whitebark Pine
By: Kate Michael
Summer 2019
Key words: whitebark pine, conservation, Michael Durglo, Jr., Confederated Salish and Kootenai, Montana, seeds, resiliency
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is working to conserve whitebark pine trees and reintroduce it into their culture. To ensure the species’ safety, they seek to understand how some trees are resilient against blister rust through laboratory tests and then plant more of those varieties. The whitebark pine research is part of a larger process of the tribe’s strategic planning process for climate change.

Native bison hunters amplified climate impacts on North American prairie fires
July 24, 2018
Keywords: bison, hunting, wildfire, management, climate, Native American, Blackfeet, Montana, archaeology, prairie
New archaeological evidence from a Southern Methodist University study shows that Native American groups managed prairie lands through intentional fire usage that helped them to drive bison towards a cliff.

Webinar - Climate Adaptation and Waterborne Disease Prevention at Crow Reservation, Montana
By: John Doyle and Mari Eggers
Tribal Environmental Health Conference 2018
June 25, 2018
Key words: Climate change, elders, precipitation, temperatures, health, ice breakup, berries, plants, loss, traditional ecological knowledge, western science, coal, fire, air quality, water quality
They undertook a study involving interviews with elders about their memories of climate and supplemented it with weather statistics. Climate change is resulting in impacts to water and air quality and environmental and human health.

Putting fire on the land: Montana tribes use traditional knowledge to restore forests
By: Katy Spence
July 24, 2017
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Division of Fire is using traditional knowledge and prescribed fires to manage tribal forests.

Braids of Truth
Produced by: Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Salish Kootenai College, Intertribal Timber Council, and US Forest Service.
A 3-part video series that explores Traditional Ecological Knowledge, climate change and collaboration challenges.
Introduction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knNRzzY46e0
Part 1: Fire and Forest management. Elders and forest professionals discuss the traditional and contemporary uses of fire and challenges to forest management practices.
Part 2: Climate Change. Elders, scientists and cultural leaders discuss the effects of climate change on the earth, culture and peoples and the differences between western science and traditional ecological principles.
Part 3: Collaboration Challenges. How can agencies, institutions and tribal cultures communicate about issues that relate to ecology and lifeways when the terms can mean different things? Is it learning how to talk or how to listen?

Comparing Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western Science Woodland Caribou Habitat Models
By: JEAN L. POLFUS,1 Wildlife Biology Program, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA KIMBERLY HEINEMEYER, Round River Conservation Studies, 284 W 400 N, Suite 105, Salt Lake City, UT 84103, USA MARK HEBBLEWHITE, Wildlife Biology Program, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA TAKU RIVER TLINGIT FIRST NATION, P.O. Box 132, Atlin, BC V0W 1A0, Canada
The Journal of Wildlife Management;DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.643
Received: 31 December 2011;Accepted: 10 September 2013

What is Natural?: Epilogue to Preserving Yellowstone's Natural Condition: Science and the Perception of Nature
By: James A. Pritchard
Ecological Restoration, 21:254-257;doi:10.3368/er.21.4.254
December 2003

Last updated: July 3, 2023