Colleen Slebzak

Anthropological Review

Climate Change Impacts on Native and Indigenous Communities: The Incorporation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Mainstream Policies

Indigenous and Native individuals have a specific and vital “traditional knowledge” that may hold solutions for adaptations to climate change for the human race. By incorporating traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) with scientific applications, environmental policies are beginning to personifying sustainability.
Native and indigenous individuals face extreme challenges (around the world), due to climate change: socially, economically, culturally, and environmentally. TEK and indigenous peoples’ observations can contribute greatly to adaptation strategies on an international level; with mainstream policies geared toward sustainability of the environment and preserving Native and indigenous identities and cultures in the process.

Abstract
Indigenous and Native individuals have a specific and vital “traditional knowledge” that may hold solutions for adaptations to climate change for the human race. By incorporating “traditional ecological knowledge” with scientific applications, environmental policies are beginning to personifying sustainability.# Traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous and Native individuals can provide valuable insights into climate sciences (methodologies and research), and provide vital adaptation (land and resource management) strategies and mainstream international policies.# These contributions to First World sciences and mainstream policies protect the indigenous and Native societies cultural identities and subsistence patterns, while providing critical adaptation solutions for the various negative-externalizations of climate change.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Scientific Applications
Indigenous and Native individuals are contributing indispensable traditional ecological knowledge for use in First World scientific methodologies, applications, and research in climate sciences.# Indigenous and Native individuals have a different perspective that can prove to be valuable to the scientific study of climate change.
The information provided by indigenous and Native perspectives coupled with First World science’s technologies and methodologies, can reveal possible adaptation strategies for climate change’s negative impacts (strategies that benefit the human race as a whole). Traditional ecological knowledge provides unique local perspectives from indigenous and Native societies from a specific place.# According to the Politics of Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Power and the “Integration” of Knowledge 1999, by Paul Nadasdy, “the past 15 years have witnessed an explosion in the amount of research devoted to “Traditional Ecological Knowledge”… The self-proclaimed goal of much of this research has been to collect and document traditional ecological knowledge and to integrate it with scientific knowledge for use in resource management, environmental impact assessments, and land claim negotiations” (15). Information provided by indigenous and Native individuals is finally being incorporated into land and resource management policies (and assessments), on a global scale, and has already proved to be vital for adaptation strategies in the face of climate change. If used appropriately, traditional ecological knowledge can also help to “fill-in-the-gaps” of First World science’s research when technical methodologies give inconsistent results. Many perspectives help to give a consensus in scientific research that is consistent “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Indigenous and Native individuals introduced “traditional-monitoring” into the field of climate science. This input has proved crucial to First World scientific research. Traditional-monitoring is vital to First World scientific research in that it is a collaborative-effort between indigenous and Native individuals and First World scientists to compose accurate consensus’ in the monitoring of the effects of climate change in that specific area. With enough “perspectives” (indigenous and Native), climate scientists could potentially develop a “global consensus” of climate change impacts, collaborate on possible solutions for adaptations (on various levels and globally with other scientists), and apply this knowledge to all areas of the world.
Indigenous and Native individuals can tell scientists much about (observed) changing ecosystems, temperatures, migration patters, weather events, agricultural yields, and so forth.# It is far less expensive to send one researcher (First World scientist) into the field to collect many indigenous and Native individual perspectives, and far more realistic. According to the Ecology and Society website, and an article titled Combining Science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Monitoring Populations for Co-Management 2004, “one of the characteristics of traditional monitoring is that observers tend to note unusual rather than average patterns and occurrences…Native observers similarly note unusual patterns in animal distributions, strange behavior, diseased animals, and breeding failures… Changes in the frequency of such unusual events are often interpreted as signs of long-term alterations in ecosystems or resource levels” (et al. 2004:2) Indigenous and Native individuals incorporating their traditional ecological knowledge into First World sciences can help to observe the impacts of climate change from a ground perspective, from many different observers, and on a global scale. The article in Ecology and Society also said, “…traditional ecological knowledge is less likely to miss occasional extreme events, whereas science may miss the event altogether because of a short sampling duration…” (et al. 2004). The changes that occur in the environment on a micro-level are better recorded in great numbers by indigenous and Native individuals. Both minor and major changes in the environment can often be missed with the macro-level methodologies of First World science. The incorporation of this knowledge into scientific research is vital for an educated opinion and for the development of adaptation and sustainability strategies in the face of climate change.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Mainstream Policy
Mainstream policies that are aimed at the detection of environmental change, land assessments, and resource and land management strategies are incorporating valuable knowledge (traditional ecological knowledge ), from indigenous and Native individuals. According to Nadasdy, “…governments and First Nations are setting up co-management regimes as the primary means for including TK in resource management and environmental assessment policies” (1999:14). Crucial climate mitigation efforts are including traditional ecological knowledge; and as a result, many new environmental policies finally reflect the changing environment (and the cultural identities of the individuals that purposed them). Many examples of traditional ecological knowledge making its way into mainstream policy exist today where, previously (15 years ago), there were none.# According to Exploring the Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Climate Change Initiatives 2012, by Kristen Vinyeta and Kathy Lynn, “traditional ecological knowledge has the potential to inform various aspects of climate change assessments…”, asserting that this body of knowledge is vital for climate science and the decision-making processes of environmental policy (10).
The incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge into mainstream policy also benefits indigenous and Native individuals in that these individuals (whom are impacted most by the negative-externalizations of climate change imposed by the First World), finally have a platform in which to share their wisdom and have their wisdom applied to mainstream environmental policy.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge Preserves Cultural Identities
According to the Changing Arctic: Indigenous Perspectives 2010, by Henry Huntington and Shari Fox, the incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous and Native perspectives into government and mainstream policies empowers native people and preserves their cultural identity “through self-government and self-determination arrangements, including ownership and management of land and natural resources…[this] enable[s] them to adapt to climate change” (91). With the incorporation of indigenous and Native individual perspectives into mainstream policies, the indigenous and Native individuals are better able to adapt to climate changes while preserving their cultural identity by continuing traditions passed down from their ancestors (which usually consist of eco-subsistence histories). In Indigenous Ways of Knowing and the Study of Environmental Change 2010, Fikret Berkes said “the partnership effort has resulted in materials that can communicate two different audiences with multiple uses in mind. Perhaps most important, it has helped indigenous people meet their own educational, cultural and political needs”; thus, preserving the cultural identity of indigenous and Native societies while promoting sustainability through eco-friendly applications and polices (2010:154).

Conclusions
The paring of traditional ecological knowledge (provided by indigenous and Native individuals), and First World science has already proved to be vital for adaptation strategies in the face of climate change. Globally, indigenous and Native communities are working with government offices and policy-makers to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into mainstream policies that affect the planet. By incorporating traditional ecological knowledge into scientific application, not only do climate sciences and polices align with sustainability, but the cultural identities of indigenous and Native societies that introduced traditional ecological knowledge are preserved in the process.# Indigenous and Native perspectives are critical for problem-solving processes related to climate change (amongst other things), and personify ideal environmental and cultural principles of sustainability.

References

Berkes, Fikret
2009 “Indigenous Ways of Knowing and the Study of Environmental Change.” Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39(4):151-156. 9765972_1/courses/CSC_0634C_O_132_1/Berkes_indigenous_ways_of_knowing_and_enviro_c hange2009.pdf, accessed February 22, 2013.

Huntington, Henry P.
2010 “Using Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Science: Methods and Applications,” JSTOR. Ecological Society of America: Ecological Applications. 10(5):1270-1274. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss3/art2/, accessed February 20, 2013.

Huntington, Henry and Shari Fox
2010 “The Changing Arctic: Indigenous Perspectives. Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.” Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39(3):91-95. https://www.courses.maine.edu/bbcswebdav/pid- 1733998-dt-content-rid-9821963_1/courses/CSC_0634C_O_132_1/HuntingtonandFoxACIA.pdf, accessed February 23, 2013.

Kimmerer, Robin Wall
2002 “Weaving Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Biological Education: A Call to Action.” Bioscience, Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. Syracuse NY: State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 52(5). http://www.esf.edu/nativepeoples/weaving.pdf , accessed February 22, 2013.

Moller, Henrik, Fikret Berkes, Phillip O‘Brian Lyver, and Mina Kislalioglu
2004 “Combining Science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Monitoring Populations for Co- Management.” Ecology and Society. 9(3):2.
http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss3/art2/, accessed February 23, 2013.

Nadasdy, Paul
1999 “The Politics of TEK: Power and the ’Integration’ of Knowledge.” Arctic Anthropology: Department of Anthropology. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University, 36(1-2):1-18. https://www.courses.maine.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1714736-dt-content-rid- 9765971_1/courses/CSC_0634C_O_132_1/Nadasdy.pdf, accessed February 21, 2013.

Society for Ecological Restoration
2013 About SER. Society for Ecological Restoration. http://www.ser2013.org/about/about-ser/, accessed February 22, 2013.

Tribal Climate Change Profile: NPLCC Traditional Ecological Knowledge Projects
2013 Indigenous and Native Peoples and Northwest Climate Initiatives: Exploring the Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Resource Management. http://www4.nau.edu/tribalclimatechange/tribes/docs/tribes_NPLCC.pdf, accessed February 21, 2013

Vinyeta, Kristen and Kathy Lynn
2012 Draft In Tribal Climate. Exploring the Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Climate Change Initiatives. University of Oregon. http://tribalclimate.uoregon.edu/files/2010/11/TEK_Climate_Synthesis_Oct-12-1nkf2o3.pdf, accessed February 19, 2013.

C_Slebzak_Climate_Change_and_Native_Individuals

2 comments on “Climate Change Impacts on Native and Indigenous Communities: The Incorporation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Mainstream Policies

  1. Pingback: Climate Change Impacts on Native and Indigenous Communities: The Incorporation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Mainstream Policies | colleenslebzak

  2. peterdopson
    August 26, 2013

    Reblogged this on Solution Living !.

    Like

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