TEK & Science Collaboration


Hunting and Morality as Elements of Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Reo, N. J., & Whyte, K. P. (2012). Hunting and morality as elements of traditional ecological knowledge. Human ecology, 40(1), 15-27.

Contemporary subsistence hunting practices of North American Indians have been questioned because of hunters’ use of modern technologies and integration of wage-based and subsistence livelihoods. Tribal traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) has been questioned on similar grounds and used as justification for ignoring tribal perspectives on critical natural resource conservation and development issues. This paper examines hunting on the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in North Central Wisconsin, USA. The study used semi-structured interviews with hunters from the reservation to document their contemporary hunting practices and the traditional moral code that informs their hunting-related behaviors and judgments. Subsistence hunting is framed in the context of TEK and attention focused on the interplay between TEK’s practical and moral dimensions. Results indicate the importance of traditional moral codes in guiding a community’s contemporary hunting practices and the inseparability and interdependence of epistemological, practical, and ethical dimensions of TEK.

On the Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge as a Collaborative Concept: A Philosophical Study

Whyte, K. P. (2013). On the role of traditional ecological knowledge as a collaborative concept: a philosophical study. Ecological processes, 2(1), 7.

The concept of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) has some of its origins in literatures on international development and adaptive management. There is a tendency to want to determine one definition for TEK that can satisfy every stakeholder in every situation. Yet a scan of environmental science and policy literatures reveals there to be differences in definitions that make it difficult to form a consensus. What should be explored instead is the role that the concept of TEK plays in facilitating or discouraging cross-cultural and cross-situational collaboration among actors working for indigenous and non-indigenous institutions of environmental governance, such as tribal natural resources departments, federal agencies working with tribes, and co-management boards.

Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatitives: Executive Summary

Chief, K., Chischilly, A. M., Cochran, P., Durglo, M., Hardison, P., Hostler, J., ... & Viles, C. (2015). Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives.

This paper details guidelines that have been developed to examine the significance of traditional knowledges in relation to climate change and the potential risks to indigenous peoples in the U.S. for sharing traditional knowledges in federal and other non-indigenous climate change initiatives. These guidelines should be used to inform the development of specific protocols in direct and close consultation with indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples in the U.S. include federally-recognized tribes, with whom the United States has a Trust responsibility to, state-recognized indigenous peoples (such as state-recognized Tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations), and unrecognized indigenous peoples and indigenous communities in the U.S. Additionally, federal agencies have government-to-government consultation obligations towards federally-recognized tribes. Each group of indigenous peoples could interact and participate with federal and non-indigenous climate change initiatives in ways that involve TKs. The guidelines are intended to be provisional.

Engaging Southwestern Tribes in Sustainable Water Resources Topics and Management

Chief, K., Meadow, A., & Whyte, K. (2016). Engaging Southwestern Tribes in Sustainable Water Resources Topics and Management. Water, 8(8), 350.

One of the challenges that face indigenous people regarding the management of water relates to their opposition to the commodification of water for availability to select individuals. External researchers seeking to work with indigenous peoples must learn how to design research or water management projects that respect indigenous peoples. The objectives of this paper are to (1) to provide an overview of the context of current indigenous water management issues, especially for the U.S. federally recognized tribes in the Southwestern United States; (2) to synthesize approaches to engage indigenous persons, communities, and governments on water resources topics and management; and (3) to compare the successes of engaging Southwestern tribes in five examples to highlight some significant activities for collaborating with tribes on water resources research and management.

The Story of Rising Voices: Facilitating Collaboration Between Indigenous and Western Ways of Knowing

Maldonado, J., Lazrus, H., Bennett, S. K., Chief, K., Dhillon, C. M., Gough, B., ... & Whyte, K. P. (2016). The story of rising voices: Facilitating collaboration between indigenous and western ways of knowing.

Indigenous knowledges and adaptation strategies provide a crucial foundation for community-based adaptation measures to climate change-related transformations. Because of the unprecedented rates of environmental shifts precipitated by contemporary climate change, and circumscribed adaptive capacity of Indigenous communities, partnerships between experts with backgrounds in Indigenous and western knowledge may be particularly important. This chapter examines collaborations among scientific and Native American, Alaska Native, and Pacific Island communities to support climate solutions. Specifically, we draw examples from the Rising Voices: Collaborative Science for Climate Solutions program (Rising Voices) to examine how boundary organizations function cross-culturally.

Weaving Indigenous Science, Protocols and Sustainability Science

Whyte, K. P., Brewer, J. P., & Johnson, J. T. (2016). Weaving Indigenous science, protocols and sustainability science. Sustainability Science, 11(1), 25-32.

Indigenous sustainability scientists often describe protocols as referring to attitudes about how to approach the world that are inseparable from how people approach scientific inquiry; they use the terms caretaking and stewardship to characterize protocols in their Indigenous communities and nations. Yet sustainability scientists may be rather mystified by the idea of protocols as a necessary dimension of scientific inquiry. Moreover, the terms stewardship and caretaking are seldom used in sustainability science. We elaborate on some possible meanings of protocols for sustainability scientists.

Factors that Support Indigenous Involvement in Multi-actor Environmental Stewardship

Reo, N. J., Whyte, K. P., McGregor, D., Smith, M. A., & Jenkins, J. F. (2017). Factors that support Indigenous involvement in multi-actor environmental stewardship. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples. 1177180117701028.

Regional, multi-actor environmental collaborations bring together diverse parties to achieve environmental protection and stewardship outcomes. Involving a range of participants helps involve alternative forms of knowledge, expertise, and perspectives; it may also present greater challenges in reaching agreements, particularly when both Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties are involved. The authors conduct a cross-case study of 39 regional partnerships involving Indigenous nations from the Great Lakes basin of North America with the aim of determining the factors that enable Indigenous partners to remain engaged in multi-actor collaborations. Six characteristics influenced Indigenous nations’ willingness to remain engaged: respect for Indigenous knowledges, control of knowledge mobilization, intergenerational involvement, self-determination, continuous cross-cultural education, and early involvement. Being attentive of these factors can help partnerships achieve their environmental goals by keeping important partners at the table.

What Do Indigenous Knowledges Do For Indigenous Peoples?

Whyte, K. (2015). What Do Indigenous Knowledges Do for Indigenous Peoples?. Keepers of the Green World: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Sustainability. Edited by M.K. Nelson and D. Shilling. Cambridge University Press.

This essay is written to address conversations about the best ways to engage in knowledge exchange on important sustainability issues between Indigenous knowledges and fields of climate, environmental and sustainability sciences. Indigenous knowledges often play a crucial role in Indigenous planning processes. I have found that scientists often appreciate the value of Indigenous knowledges as inputs for adding data that scientific methods do not normally track. But it is also the case that Indigenous knowledges have governance-value. That is, they serve as irreplaceable sources of guidance for Indigenous resurgence and nation-building. Scientists should appreciate governance-value because it suggests that for some Indigenous peoples in knowledge exchange situations, we need to be assured that the flourishing of our knowledges is respected and protected. Scientists must understand governance value to improve their approaches to knowledge exchange with Indigenous peoples.