First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) recently published two reports dealing with Native American ecological stewardship. Both are available as a free download from the First Nations website.
- Increasing Ecological Stewardship of Tribal Lands, Natural Resources and Historical Sites
- Leveraging Native Lands, Sovereignty and Traditions: Models and Resources for Tribal Ecological Stewardship
These both fall under First Nations’ broad Native Ecological Stewardship program area.
The first report captures discussions from a November 2018 convening in Denver, Colorado, that First Nations hosted. It involved representatives of 15 tribes and Native nonprofit organizations alongside natural resource professionals and experts in Native law and policy to begin a dialogue. That dialogue was about tribal stewardship of land, natural resources and sacred sites. It was about barriers to this stewardship. It was about how traditional ecological knowledge is uniquely adapted to local environments and essential to all conservation work, and to discuss steps for enhancing tribal control of natural assets. It also was about how non-Native allies can best provide assistance to this cause.
This gathering was a rare opportunity for these groups to network, shine a light on how they approach their work, and learn from each other’s models and best practices.
The convening was generously funded by the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation. This report was generated to provide a platform for further discussion and input, recognizing that there was only a subset of tribal and community interests represented at the meeting. The report summarizes input provided by participants and adds examples to further elaborate discussion points.
In the second report, Leveraging Native Lands, Sovereignty and Traditions: Models and Resources for Tribal Ecological Stewardship, First Nations showcases tribal models of culturally appropriate and values-centered development in which tribes are leveraging their lands and sovereignty to their economic, environmental and cultural benefit.
This report culminates First Nations’ two-year “Mapping Ecological Stewardship Opportunities in Northern Great Plains Native Communities” (MESO) project that was underwritten by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies. The focus of the project was to facilitate the dialogue around and implementation of strategies that catalyze tribally controlled initiatives in ecological stewardship that are compatible with community tribal values and contribute to tribal economic and community development opportunities. The long-term vision is for tribes to capitalize on and regain control of their natural resource assets in a sustainable manner and to thrive in their communities.
The report shares examples of programs in which:
- Sustainable management of agricultural resources and wildlife habitat incorporate traditional practices, often alongside and in a complementary manner to Western management methods.
- The dramatic beauty of Northern Plains reservations will draw tourists – and tourism dollars – from around the world.
- Traditional knowledge is the basis for documenting and preparing Native communities in the face of climate change.
- Some of the 17.9 million acres of standing forests on tribal lands are already generating income – and mitigating greenhouse gases.
It also includes resources for funding and technical assistance as well as food-for-thought ideas on perspectives and best practices to consider in planning and implementing tribal ecological stewardship initiatives. A group of experts shared their stories and models of natural resource management and how tribes can assert their control and infuse their efforts with traditional knowledge.