traditional ecological knowledge


Protect the Arctic Refuge youth rally in front of the Yukon legislative assembly. Katarzyna Nowak

Indigenous and Western Scientists and Knowledge Holders Partnering for the Public Good

Katarzyna Nowak, lecturer at University of Alberta / Yukon University; Jared Gonet, PhD student at University of Alberta / Yukon University., , UCS

We are two conservationists: a First Nations Yukoner and Canadian, and a first generation immigrant-settler with dual Poland-U.S. nationality. Our paths crossed through mutual interest in Indigenous-led stewardship, Two-Eyed Seeing, and holistic approaches like One Health. We are proponents of two-eyed seeing which means, “To see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, and to see from the other eye with the strengths of Western ways of knowing, and to use both of these eyes together”. With two-eyed seeing, it becomes easier to see, for example that the health of people, wildlife and our shared environments is so intertwined as to be one (“One Health”). 

We think that an exciting paradigm shift is underway that could transform how we engage with governments and other institutions for the public good.     Read more >

Katarzyna Nowak
Katarzyna Nowak
Katarzyna Nowak
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Indigenous People of Louisiana and the Oil Industry: An Ishak Reflection

Jeffery U. Darensbourg, freelance writer, speaker, and editor, , UCS

While doing field research in 2018 for a book, I took a boat to a shell midden in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, near where the Vermilion River – long home to my ancestors of various sorts – meets up with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway before spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. My people, the Ishak, also known as the Atakapa (or even the Atakapa-Ishak) once inhabited the nearby Onion Bayou. Our ancient midden is bisected by a ship channel known as Four Mile Cutoff.

Standing there, I watched ships ferrying workers and equipment for oil exploration, going straight through the middle of this remnant of our cultural legacy. In our tribal creation myth, the first Ishak walked out of that very gulf onto our lands. Now something else coming from there is a dominant cultural, environmental, and economic force.

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Students at Dolores González Elementary School in Albuquerque learn traditional corn braiding Photo: Dolores González Elementary School

On Indigenous People’s Day, a Look at the Movement to Revive Native Foodways and How Western Science Might Support—For a Change

, Director, Food & Environment

“Tribes are not sovereign unless they can feed themselves,” notes Ross Racine, Executive Director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council. This is such a brutal fact that that the destruction of Native foodways was used by the U.S. government to effectively weaken, destroy and remove Native people from their ancestral lands during the period of Western colonization, genocide, expansion and cultural undermining that ran from the 17th into the present century (in the form of “Food Distribution Programs,” largely the food that has made many Native communities both dependent and among the sickest in the world.) Read more >

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Photo: Samantha Chisholm Hatfield

Lessons from the Land and Water Songs to Heal

Samantha Chisholm Hatfield, PhD, , UCS

Recently, I was fortunate to be selected as an HJ Andrews Visiting Scholar, and was able to complete an HJ Andrews Scholar Writing residency, where I had the incredible opportunity to view the forest area through a Traditional Ecological Knowledge lens.

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Tribal fishing areas are still actively maintained and passed from generation to generation as eagles soar overhead, Quinault Indian Tribe (WA)

The Importance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) When Examining Climate Change

Samantha Chisholm Hatfield, PhD, , UCS

It all started with a simple conversation over lunch. The fuse had been lit, the spark began, and the first step had occurred in my journey, unbeknownst to me at the time. Later that day, I realized, for the first time in my life, I had experiences that were unique. And, I realized I held knowledge. Knowledge that was different from others; knowledge that went beyond the scientific or academic type, and that ran richer, deeper, more extensive. Sitting over sandwiches, sitting with culture, sitting with knowledge. Read more >

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