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, identifying areas of concern and related threats. This project is being led by Smith River Rancheria, 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. 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 an extensive review of archival ethnographies, as well as conduct interviews from citizens of local, federally recognized Tribes who are culturally knowledgeable and are active harvesters. Participants 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. The interviews will include short map-based interviews with focus groups and long oral history interviews. 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. 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 year 3.



Researchers described their findings from this project in a technical report, released in July 2017. Click below to read the report.

FINAL REPORT: Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Keystone Marine Species and Ecosystems



Data from this project are coming soon! You will be able access the data through the OceanSpaces map tool and data archive to learn more about each data package.