The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Land Management – The Rocky Mountain Collegian

380,000 gallon oil leak Keystone Pipeline, which has been heavily contested by Native Americans and First Nations peoples in recent years, occurred on October 31, which begs the question: why are Indigenous peoples being ignored over environmental issues not only in North Dakota, but everywhere?

Colorado State University has set itself the goal of recognizing the indigenous people who first resided on the lands on which the University currently sits, as shown by its land recognition declaration. But how does CSU work to mainstream and include indigenous perspectives in the care of this land?

“There is a big difference between teaching Indigenous peoples as a subject and teaching from a position of recognition of Indigenous peoples as theorists,” said Lindsey Schneider, Ph.D., assistant professor of studies Native American affiliated with Turtle Mountain. Chippewa. “Land management practices are part of a larger paradigm that has produced philosophies and ways of knowing and being very different from those of non-Indigenous societies. “

Doreen E. Martinez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Native American Studies affiliated with Mescalero Apache Tribe, said that as a land granting institution, CSU has tried to approach the teaching of land management in the classroom in a contemporary way, but that there are always tensions when the ‘we work with the soil, potentially in places where things can be done better.

“Having indigenous academics and knowing how we produce knowledge as indigenous peoples, and how that is replicated, is a separate specialty,” said Martinez. “One of the things that has happened is that (our knowledge) is added later … rather than doing it at a fundamental level in terms of how you answer the questions you seek to answer.”

According to Martinez, environmental concerns are on the rise due to this lack of knowledge integration. There is still a “go and ask indigenous peoples” perspective that proves the value of indigenous knowledge and practices, but continues to be sanctioned as a specialty rather than being available as common knowledge.

Schneider said that asking indigenous people for help with land management has always been seen and used as a last resort.

“They’ll say, ‘We’ve exhausted all the other options, and we’re really screwed. Could you help us? ‘ Schneider said. “This tendency to wait until it is almost too late is a testament to the low credit given to the deep-rooted, long-term and complex body of knowledge that indigenous peoples possess about the management of our landscapes.

This is literally how we have, for some time, understood what it means to do work and what it means to be in spaces. – Doreen E. Martinez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Native American Studies

Indigenous people have occupied these places for thousands of years, observing the landscape up close and managing it well; now there is a “come help us consult on this matter” attitude from non-native experts to native experts, and the native connection to nature is often seen as mystical and spiritual in nature, but it is not. case, said Schneider.

“Who are the experts and who is called upon? Martinez asked. “You will hear the students experimenting in our classroom: ‘Oh! That’s how you all talk about it, and that’s how you approach it, ”because it’s fully embedded in the foundation (of what we teach). It is not an addition to our space. This is literally the place where it begins.

Martinez and Schneider said higher education needs to focus on hiring more experts on this topic who identify with indigenous populations.

It’s a good idea to bring in people with experience in Indigenous studies, allowing a broader perspective into already existing programs and encouraging Indigenous students to connect and participate as well, Martinez and Schneider said.

There are courses available for land management training at USC, all that relates to the way of taking care of the earth according to its particular use.

“This earth has been manipulated (and) contaminated,” Martinez said. “That’s the concern. We’re not looking at this with the right contacts. It is to give back the earth when it is poisoned.

Indigenous peoples strive to change the understanding of how a value system, relationship and responsibility to properly manage land and care for the landscape is implemented.

“This is literally how we have, for quite some time, figured out what it means to do the job and what it means to be in spaces,” Martinez said.

Schneider said it couldn’t be a one-size-fits-all deal. Land management is not as simple as joining an alternative program and ticking a box; it’s about building that relationship with the land, building that kinship, and knowing how it’s associated with the world, Schneider said.

“It’s very important for the institution to remember this part of the relationship,” said Schneider. “It has to be something that is ongoing, that is collaborative and that comes from both sides, not the reiteration of the extractive relationship that it has been in the past. “

Dorina Vida can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @simply_she_.