Traditional Ecological Knowledge Symposium

Humboldt State University, September 22-23, 2011

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New interdisciplinary course NR 480; 1 unit CR/NC

What is this?

This will be a two-day symposium and workshop on applying Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) for effective natural resource management. “The advent of the industrial revolution, cultural imperialism, and quantum leaps in technology have, in many parts of the world, separated the modern human from land stewardship, species preservation, and environmental conservation. In recent years, there has been increasing attention paid to TEK by academics, natural resource managers, and commercial concerns. The emerging ethnoscientific approach to TEK fuses the methodologies of anthropology and biology to underscore the past and current relationships between Nature and Culture. As biodiversity is now becoming synonymous with sustainable development and human survival, TEK has the potential to provide valuable information if not useful models that can be adapted for resource management today.” (from the Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network).

Who will present?

There will be 12 presentations, from local and out-of-the-area experts and practitioners, covering a variety of topics related to TEK.

» See presentation titles & schedule
» See bios, and abstracts

Who can attend, who will benefit?

The symposium is FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Interested HSU students can enroll in an optional course, NR 480, to receive 1 university credit for attending as much of the symposium as their class schedules allow. Tribal members, local resource managers, biologists, foresters, and HSU faculty and staff will all be invited and welcomed. Attendance will likely be over 100.

Where and when?

The symposium will run 9-4:30 on Thursday and Friday Sept 22nd and 23rd, with an hour break at noon for lunch each day. The morning session (9-noon) will be held in the black box theatre in the Theatre Arts Building, Room 115, on the HSU campus; the afternoon session (1-4:30) will be held in the Native American Forum (located in Behavioral and Social Sciences Building, Room 162) on campus. See campus map.

This symposium is being sponsored by the following HSU departments and programs:

Wildlife, Indian Natural Resource Science & Engineering Program (INRSEP), Undergraduate Research & Mentoring in Biological Sciences Program (HSU URM), Fisheries, Forestry, Environmental Science & Management, College of Natural Resources & Sciences, College of Arts Humanities & Social Sciences, Environment & Community, and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion.

Schedule – Thursday 22 September 2011

9:00 am to 12:00 noon, Black Box Theatre, Theatre Arts Building, Room 115

  • 9:00 Opening prayer & welcome. Cheryl Siedner
  • 9:15 Oral history; traditional knowledge. Charlene Storr
  • 9:45 Welcome & acknowledgements. Matt Johnson & Jacquelyn Bolman
  • 10:00-10:50 Protecting and supporting traditional ecological knowledge: Creative approaches to law and policy. Beth Rose Middleton.
  • 11:00-11:50 Can traditional Indigenous cultural practices and knowledge assist in adaptation to rapid climate destabilization and help salmon recovery in the rivers of the Fraser-Columbia Plateau and coastal Pacific Northwest? Dennis Martinez
  • 12:00 to 1:00 Lunch

1:00 to 4:00 pm, Native American Forum (located in Behavioral and Social Sciences Building, Room 162)

  • 1:00-1:50 Native America: Traditional ecological knowledge in modern research. Jacquelyn Bolman
  • 2:00-2:50 The Klamath River story: Perspectives on traditional ecological knowledge and modern resource management. Joshua Strange
  • 3:00-3:50 Incorporating TEK with fire and fuels research and management: Opportunities and challenges. Frank Lake

Schedule – Friday 23 September 2011

9:00 am to 12:00 noon, Black Box Theatre, Theatre Arts Building, Room 115

  • 9:00-9:50 Corroboration, controversy, or chaos? Interactions between traditional knowledge and resource management in Alaska. Henry Huntington
  • 10:00-10:50 Reconciling traditional knowledge with modern science to adequately manage the culturally revered animals on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. Dawn McCovey & Mark Higley
  • 11:00-11:50 An unconventional approach to implementing TEK and western science in the wildlife field: Yurok way of life as a foundation for wildlife research. Seafha Blount
  • 12:00 to 1:00 Lunch

1:00 to 4:00 pm, Native American Forum (located in Behavioral and Social Sciences Building, Room 162)

  • 1:00-1:50 The forgotten northern range of the California condor: traditional ecological knowledge informing science based management to achieve recovery. Chris West & Tiana Williams
  • 2:00-2:50 Traditional ecological knowledge and cultural adaptation. Samantha Hatfield
  • 3:00-3:50 Panel Discussion


Presenter Bios

Cheryl Seidner Cheryl’s father’s people are Wiyot from the Eel River valley and her mother’s people are from Wigi which is called Humboldt Bay today. Cheryl has attended weeklong workshops at the University of California, Berkeley in previous years and her work with the Wiyot language has given her incentive to sing her people’s songs once again, creating new songs for a new century. Cheryl has lectured throughout California on the Wiyot people. Her most challenging task was as the Tribal Chairwoman for the Wiyot, appointed acting Chair October 2005. Since 2000, Cheryl has been involved in efforts by the Wiyot Tribe to purchase portions of their sacred island in Humboldt Bay. In 2004, the Wiyot Tribe went before the City Council of Eureka to ask for sixty plus acres of their Sacred Island with testimony from Native Americans and non-Natives alike. The Council unanimously voted to return that portion of the island to the Wiyot Tribe.

Charlene Storr is of Tolowa and Maidu descent. She is a member of Tolowa Nation. She was born in Crescent City and grew up on the North Coast of California. A thirty year employee of United Indian Health Services Inc., she is a traditional and contemporary storyteller. She presents at storytelling festival, workshops, national and state parks, clubs, organizations, and schools around the West Coast. Community activities include: National American Indian Storytelling Association founding board member, Native American Advisory Council member at Humboldt State University, Lake Earl Grange member, past board president of the California Indian Storytelling Association.

Dr. Beth Rose Middleton Assistant Professor, Native American Studies Dept., UC Davis. Dr. Middleton received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, & Management from UC Berkeley. She is of Afro-Caribbean (Belizean, Jamaican, and Honduran) and Eastern European (Russian, Lithuanian) heritage, and was born and raised in rural northern California. Dr. Middleton’s research centers on Native environmental policy and Native activism for site protection using conservation tools. She is specifically interested in California Native land rights, California Native green entrepreneurship, using environmental statutes for cultural preservation, qualitative GIS mapping of Indian allotment lands, Afro-indigenous populations, the effects of hydropower development on Native lands, and indigenizing natural resource policy and planning.

Dennis Martinez. Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network. With an academic background in history and philosophy of science, Dennis is also trained in Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and is chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network (IPRN), a working group of the Society for Ecological Restoration International (SER-I) and is co-director (with Agnes Pilgrim of Siletz Confederated Tribes) of the Takelma Intertribal Project (TIP) which brought back the Salmon Homecoming Ceremony after an absence of 150 years.

Jacquelyn Bolman – Dr. Bolman is Director of the Indian Natural Resources, Science and Engineering Program (INRSEP) at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. INRSEP is the only program of its kind in the California State University (CSU) system has supported American Indian students for over 40 years. INRSEP supports the highest number of Native students pursuing STEM degrees in the state of California. Prior to HSU, Dr. Bolman served as the Manager of Special Projects/NASA Workforce Development for the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium. She has also served as the Director of Multicultural Affairs and Scientific Knowledge for Indian Learning and Leadership (SKILL) at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City South Dakota. She completed her Bachelor Science and Allied Health Science degrees, Masters and Ph.D. at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. J.R. is a member of the Lakota Nation of South Dakota.

Joshua Strange, University of Washington (SAFS) & Yurok Tribal Fisheries. Joshua leads a small research team for the Yurok Tribe conducting applied research on anadromous fishes in the Klamath River basin focusing on fish migration, growth, survival, disease, and river ecology. Joshua has also taught a course on the ecology of freshwater fishes at Humboldt state University. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and his dissertation topic is adult Chinook salmon migration in the Klamath River basin. Joshua became passionate about river restoration at the age of 16 when he also trained to become a professional river guide, subsequently guiding some of the most remote and challenging runs in the West. His step-father is a Yurok Tribal elder and Joshua is blessed to have been raised with a diverse cultural perspective. Joshua lives in Hoopa, the largest Tribal reservation in California, where he pursues the dream of sustainable community on a farmstead with his family.

Dr. Frank Kanawha Lake, Ph.D., Research Ecologist, USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station, Fire and Fuels Program. Frank is of Karuk, Seneca, Cherokee and Mexican descent. His current research involves restoration ecology, traditional ecological knowledge, and ethno-ecology with an emphasis on cultural management and fire ecology of forest, shrub, grassland and riparian environments in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion. His work involves projects with the Orleans-Somes Bar Fire Safe council/Mid-Klamath Watershed council, Karuk Indigenous Basketweavers, Karuk Tribe of California, community members, and government agencies on fuels reduction, prescribed fire, ethno-botany, and other natural resources issues.

Dr. Henry P. Huntington, Arctic Science Director for the Pew Environment Group and owner, Huntington Consulting of Eagle River, Alaska. Dr. Huntington received his Ph.D. in polar studies from Cambridge University. He is an expert on arctic natural resource management, human dimensions of climate change, and the use of traditional indigenous knowledge for natural resource management. He is an author of over 30 publications on these topics.

Dawn McCovey, Hoopa Valley Tribal Forestry. Dawn is a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and an active participant in her traditional culture. She graduated from Humboldt State University with a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Management in 2006 and has since worked as the associate Wildlife Biologist for the Hoopa Valley Tribe. In 2011 she is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and will utilize fellowship resources to conduct research on the culturally revered pileated woodpecker.

Mark Higley, Hoopa Valley Tribal Forestry. Mark is the Senior wildlife biologist for the Hoopa Valley Tribe and has been integral in fisher Martes pennanti and spotted owl Strix occidentalis caurina research. He has been in charge of the long-term demographic study of the northern spotted owl and fisher research on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation Mark has worked on the fisher research team to publish the Conservation of Fishers (Martes pennanti) in South-Central British Columbus, Western Washington, Western Oregon, and California. Mark has been honored awards from the local chapter of The Wildlife Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society and The American Ornithologist’s Union.

Seafha Blount, Ph.D. student, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. Seafha Blount is of Yurok, Karuk and Mexican descent. She is a Yurok tribal member from the Frye family of Blue Creek – Ah Pah village. Her research aim is to use both TEK and Western science to conduct wildlife research on Yurok ancestral lands. She will use both qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct research in a culturally sensitive way. A main objective is to use the Yurok worldview and cultural context as a foundation for developing and implementing a wildlife monitoring study. She served on The Wildlife Society’s Native Peoples’ Wildlife Management Working Group Board 2006-2008.

Chris West Chris West was born is California and has lived in Humboldt County for nearly a decade. He studied biology for his Bachelors degree at University of California, Santa Cruz. After graduation he worked primarily in wildlife ornithology focusing on raptors. In the fall of 1999 he interned with the Ventana Wildlife Society reintroducing and
managing California condors in Big Sur, California. His passion for condors led him to pursue his Masters degree in Wildlife at Humboldt State University in 2002. His thesis work investigated how sociality, feeding environment, and rearing methods in captive breeding programs influence condor vigilance while feeding at carcasses, important for understanding predation risk. While working on his thesis, Chris volunteered on a wide array of projects with an equally wide variety of species on the North Coast and fell in love with its diverse wildlife and habitats. This passion for the region was brought full circle, and fused with his passion for condors, when the Yurok Tribe revealed plans to investigate the possibility of reintroducing the species to the Klamath Basin. Chris is now the Senior Wildlife Biologist for the Tribe, heading up condor reintroduction feasibility studies, and community outreach.

Tiana Williams is a Yurok tribal member and native to the North Coast and the Yurok Reservation. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University, and has been employed by the Yurok Tribe for four years. She was instrumental in the creationof the Yurok Tribe Wildlife Program, and the subsequent birth of the Yurok Tribe California condor reintroduction effort. Her native upbringing and formal education allows her to bridge the gap between traditional understandings of the world and those rooted in Western-science, and to work toward a cohesive, well-informed perspective on holistic ecosystem management.

Dr. Samantha Chisholm Hatfield, PhD, Oregon State University. Sam’s interests include Traditional Ecological Knowledge, adaptation of Native Americans to mainstream culture, promoting Indigenous issues among the Deaf, Pow Wow dancing, writing, and contemporary Native American music. Her pioneering work in the field of Traditional Ecological Knowledge, specializing in documentation of traditional practices and the comparison of traditional Indigenous methods to Western scientific technique, has been considered groundbreaking research. She is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. Matrilineally, she is from the Corn Tassel and Chisholm families; patrilineally, she is from the Tututni band.


Presentation Abstracts

Protecting and Supporting Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Creative Approaches to Law and Policy. Beth Rose Middleton. The term “traditional ecological knowledge” encompasses an interactive suite of relationships between humans and rocks, trees, plants, waters, and other natural features. Within TEK are cultural understandings of how to live in the world and relate to other beings. TEK is specific to places and peoples, and should be respected in each indigenous homeland. Development and recreational activities that don’t take into account traditional indigenous relationships with places are frequent and painful challenges for indigenous people practicing and protecting TEK. This presentation will explore some of the laws and policies that may protect TEK as a practice, a suite of knowledge, and a way of life. We will look briefly at procedural statutes and environmental laws (including the National Environmental Policy Act), protective statutes (cultural resource protection laws), environmental justice/ civil rights laws, as well as legal and political precedent. What recourse do indigenous people have when TEK is threatened by development, contamination, and irresponsible recreation? What are successful court cases in which indigenous values to protect places have triumphed? What are unsuccessful cases that we can learn from? And how can we support policy and legal change to protect TEK as diverse, unique, and valuable knowledge systems that sustain peoples and cultures? Please join this law/ policy discussion of ways to support and protect TEK.

Can traditional Indigenous cultural practices and knowledge assist in adaptation to rapid climate destabilization and help salmon recovery in the rivers of the Fraser-Columbia Plateau and coastal Pacific Northwest?” Dennis Martinez HSU PowerPoint Abstract.

Native America: Traditional ecological knowledge in modern research. Jacquelyn Bolman. Need abstract.

The Klamath River Story: Perspectives on Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Modern Resource Management. Josh Strange. The Klamath River basin is a geographically diverse watershed that supports numerous runs of anadromous fishes and contains some of the largest wilderness areas in California. Pacific salmon in particular are known for forming diverse population structures that are adapted to local conditions. Indigenous tribes in the basin were also adapted to local conditions through co-evolution with the landscape and the biota that sustained them. The three tribes in the lower basin – the Karuk, Yurok, and Hoopa tribes – are river peoples with salmon-centric cultures. Traditional ecological knowledge of resource management was and is entwined with their spiritual world views – an arrangement that existed in dynamic equilibrium for millennia. In recent history, the Klamath River basin was one of the last areas in the lower 48 states to be settled by Euro-Americans with the onset of the gold rush in 1849. A typical succession of oppression and resource exploitation followed that was enabled by the colonizers’ world view. Contemporarily, a new dynamic is emerging with contrasting themes of globalization, reemergence of tribal resource management guided by modern and traditional ecological knowledge, and continued co-evolution of local adaptations by biota and cultures in the Klamath River basin. This talk will offer the author’s personal and professional perspectives on these themes that are central to the Klamath River story.

Incorporating TEK with Fire and Fuels Research and Management: Opportunities and Challenges. Frank Lake. In western North America many tribal cultures depend on fire modified ecosystems and habitats for foods, medicines, materials, and spiritual practices. Traditional ecological knowledge of tribal land management practices, including uses of fire for natural resource enhancement, across ecological scales can provide valuable information for researchers and managers. There are many opportunities to collaboratively work with tribal communities and practitioners regarding wildland fire and fuels management. This presentation will include several cases studies of how TEK was and is being incorporated into research and natural resource management in northern California’s Klamath Mountains. Opportunities, as well as some of the challenges, of incorporating TEK for research scientists, students, and resource managers will be discussed. Open group discussion to explore these issues will conclude the presentation, so that participants may share and learn from each other.

Corroboration, Controversy, or Chaos? Interactions between Traditional Knowledge and Resource Management in Alaska. Henry P. Huntington. Traditional knowledge has been described as the savior of human-environment relationships, as a quasi-religious belief with little or no practical value, and as many things in between. Using several examples from Alaska, I will talk about successes and failures to engage traditional knowledge and traditional management in the more general practice of natural resource management. Some general lessons can be drawn from these examples, but much depends also on the specifics of each case, with regard to history, personalities, other issues affecting management, and so on. I will conclude with some thoughts about current trends and future prospects for improving the application of traditional knowledge and management in our collective efforts to steward our natural world.

Reconciling Traditional Knowledge With Modern Science to Adequately Manage the Culturally Revered Animals on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. Dawn McCovey & Mark Higley. Management of culturally important species of plant and animal is an important goal for the Hoopa Valley Tribe (Tribe). The Tribe incorporated many provisions into the first tribal based FMP during the planning stage which took place in 1991-1994 to ensure cultural and traditional values were conserved. These provisions were developed through a unique planning process which included an interdisciplinary team, policy committee and a cultural committee. The resulting FMP was relatively well received and was recognized as “Ecologically Sustainable” by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. In keeping with the scope of the FMP, Hoopa Wildlife conducts research on animals that the tribe values as culturally important. Traditional value for culturally important animals is apparent in ceremonial dances and contemporary art. Recently it has become obvious that there is a shift in the value for cultural species among a younger demographic and that inherent value has begun to reflect more of a utilitarian value associated with their use, which tends to counter traditional beliefs. Hoopa Wildlife, in recognizing discrepancies with values of the local youth, has made attempts to retrieve traditional knowledge from elders and cultural advisors regarding old practices. Interviews with cultural advisors were conducted, recorded, edited and compiled on a DVD in order to enhance education opportunities to the youth regarding wildlife. The effort was a success, and Hoopa Wildlife hopes to replicate the effort, but focus on the highly recognized culturally important species the pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus).

An unconventional approach to implementing TEK and Western Science in the wildlife field: Yurok way of life as a foundation for wildlife research. Seafha Blount. Interest in TEK by the Western science community has been building momentum. However, a consensus of what TEK is and how it should be applied has not been reached between American Indian communities and Western researchers. This has led to various interpretation and implementation in research on the ground. Some American Indian scholars suggest that current methods do not incorporate the holistic nature of TEK. In the Western Wildlife profession, the concept of TEK is relatively novel and its recent exposure could be indicative of a budding paradigm shift. The common approach to implementation is to extract data regarding species-specific ecology from American Indian peoples and then use those data in a Western science paradigm. I will present themes of my PhD research proposal, in which I attempt an unconventional, inverse approach to wildlife research and TEK. In the first phase, I will employ Yurok way of life as a foundation to build context for wildlife research. Then, I will use that information along with Western science methods to conduct research regarding the Humboldt marten (Martes americana humboldtensis). The extant population and historical habitat of marten are found on Yurok ancestral territory, which is currently under several jurisdictions and land ownership. Once thought to be extinct, the Humboldt marten is threatened with a small, isolated population and habitat fragmentation. This phase of my research will focus on the potential effects of meso-carnivores, such as gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), bobcat (Lynx rufus), and Pacific fisher (Martes pennant), on the distribution of marten. Methods will include the use of genetic analysis of microsatellite DNA from hair samples to identify individuals. Conducting a culturally sensitive and relevant wildlife study will be applicable to the Yurok Tribe and local agencies and will offer an approach to TEK implementation that might be used in other regions. The forgotten northern range of the California condor: traditional ecological knowledge informing science based management to achieve recovery.

The forgotten northern range of the California condor: traditional ecological knowledge informing science based management to achieve recovery. Chris West & Tiana Williams.
Traditionally, western endangered species recovery has been a shoot-from-the-hip affair. Put animals back into the wild and hope for the best. Recent methods, rooted in adaptive management strategies, are now leaning toward a more ecosystem based approach. Are all aspects of asking, is the habitat healthy enough to allow restoration of the species? In a way, it’s this reverse perspective that may be most important from a conservation standpoint. When a species fails to thrive in an area, what does that tell us about the habitat/ecosystem that used to support it? This perspective is not new for many native cultures. The Yurok lifeway focuses on balance. The loss of any species, or the inability of a species to thrive, indicates a system out of balance. This link to the complexities of the natural system at the cultural and spiritual level can guide western academic research by providing insight into the fundamental and inextricable interactive effect between humans and natural ecosystems that is sometimes lacking in modern conceptions of wildlife management. The drive to return the Prey-go-neesh (California condor (Gymnogyps californianus)) to its former northern range, and in particular to Yurok Ancestral Territories, has provided a meeting place for traditional ecological perspectives and western-styled, science-based, wildlife management. Through this process, Tribal elders have provided insightful information to researchers, while academic rooted scientific inquiry has brought to focus some ecological issues that, until now, tribe members were unaware of. This blending of methods, driven by a passion for conservation on both sides, is a powerful combination that will ultimately restore the Prey-go-neesh to the skies of the Pacific Northwest.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Cultural Adaptation. Samantha Hatfield. This research examined Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of Siletz tribal members, the environment they live in, and how land reduction to the initially established reservation location affected and altered how TEK has been maintained. TEK is a facet of Indigenous populations that has been continuously evolving. Contemporarily, TEK is applicable in manners which are apparent, and useful. Aspects of TEK have been replaced, and while they remain utilized and somewhat understood, many individuals do not fully grasp the concept, nor the application of TEK. Many teaching systems utilize TEK, and an overall Indigenous Science approach, without realizing, or crediting such systems. Illustrating to Native populations how to recognize features which they can then utilize and teach in a manner that is applicable and beneficial to their environmental systems is one functional product of how we as Indigenous Peoples can fortify our lives and promote culturally based systems. This knowledge can be included and shared when interacting with other entities and individuals who share geographic regions. Facilitating understanding of Indigenous views, and how evolution and adaptation is an essential part of maintaining our identity, as well as facilitating cooperative environments and learning environments is crucial to management.