Around the world a trend has begun toward greater engagement of local, cultural, and traditional knowledge in the collaborative management of natural resources. In the United States one of the ways this trend has manifested itself has been through greater empowerment of traditional ecological knowledge generated and held by Native American communities. One particularly exemplary case of this trend involves the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa, or the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.
The management jurisdictions of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Division of Resource Management and the USDA Forest Service Chippewa National Forest overlap significantly; together they are responsible for a patchwork of forest and water in north-central Minnesota of over 1000 square miles. Between the two organizations interagency tension has been a consistent theme, despite periods and management activities characterized by significant, positive collaboration.
One driver of both interagency conflict and coordination has been the two agencies' engagement of distinct types of ecological knowledge: traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and western scientific ecological knowledge (WSEK). The utilization of these two ways of understanding the non-human world has both enriched the management of their jointly controlled forest and served to exacerbate conflict between the organizations. This report focuses on the characteristics of these two distinct ecological epistemologies and the dynamics between them, paying special attention to the ways in which they manifest themselves in forest management.
This is a study in the grounded theory tradition; it reports on 23 in-depth, semi-structured interviews of staff representing both agencies seeking to faithfully tell their stories and represent their perspectives. Key findings include that WSEK and TEK provide cohesive lenses through which to understand the forest, that both TEK and WSEK partially consist of influential worldviews, that both TEK and WSEK are perceived to have significant limitations, and that individuals possess the capability to move back and forth between the two ecological epistemologies. These findings inform both theory and management practice related to the role that ecological epistemologies play in the intercultural cooperative management of natural resources.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. June 2013. Major: Natural Resources Science and Management. Advisor: Mae A. Davenport. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 100 pages, appendices A-F.
Bussey, John A..
Diverse ecological epistemologies and adaptive co-management: Leech Lake Division of resource management and Chippewa National Forest.
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