Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Keystone Marine Species and Ecosystems

Start/End: February, 2014 to January, 2017

Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) can be defined as the cumulative body of scientific knowledge passed through cultural transmission by indigenous peoples over many generations. TEK is what informs customary management of natural resources by indigenous peoples, and it can be a highly credible means of understanding ecological features and species, and identifying areas of concern and related threats. The main goal of this project is to draw on tribal knowledge to enhance the baseline characterizations of six species that are both ecologically and culturally important within the beach, intertidal, kelp and mid-depth rock ecosystems. The method for acquiring this information will include a review of archival ethnographies and interviewing citizens from the participating Tribes who are culturally knowledgeable and/or active harvesters. Interviewees will be queried about their perceptions and knowledge of ecosystems and keystone species (such as sea lettuce, clams, abalone and mussels) that may be indicators of MPA performance. They will also be asked about their perceptions of the new “Tribal take” state regulations. The interviews will include short map-based interviews with focus groups and long, oral history interviews. Data collection will occur during the first two years of the project. To aid in standardization, Ecotrust will develop a data survey tool and assist in data analysis in the project’s final year. This project’s approach seeks to recognize and support the political and cultural sovereignty of each participating Tribe and its community’s intellectual property, while maintaining consistency in the research methodology and data collection across the region. Smith River Rancheria is leading this project in partnership with the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, a consortium of ten federally recognized Tribes, the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, and the Wiyot Tribe. 

Co-principal Investigators