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Network of Indigenous Knowledge


Project start
Project end
Type of project
Project theme
Society, economy and culture
Project topic
Education & Outreach
Culture & history

Project details

Science / project summary

This award funds a workshop to bring together indigenous cultural representatives from the great river basins of the Yukon and the Amazon with environmental scientists to share information and formulate plans for research on themes that highlight the long-term sustainability of rivers and the health and well-being of the people who live along them. Although the Amazon is a long way from the Arctic, their is a good argument for the need to connect the communities of river systems around the globe in order to better understand the effects of resource development, urbanization, and environmental change on these important fresh water systems. Although the global environmental change signal is strongest in the Arctic it is having an effect on other global river systems. And while urbanization and resource development may have a larger signal in the Amazon in all but the Russian arctic, these processes are spreading across the Circumpolar North. The PI and his collaborators view this workshop as a starting point a larger network of Indigenous Peoples and scientists working together to increase our understanding of these fresh water systems and ensure their long term sustainability and sustainable use. It is the vision of the research team that future workshops will include the Lena, Nile, Ganges, Yangtze, Gironde, Mississippi and the McKenzie Rivers and ultimately the Ocean Peoples of Polynesia. The five-day workshop will be held in Timpia, Peru, fall 2013 with the specific goals to: gather and compare observations and experiences from workshop participants around issues of water and rivers, and how they have been impacted by landscape and environmental change; seek consensus among the participants about specific kinds of capacity development and action around water issues that may be needed to address community needs; introduce and train participants in methods of community-based water monitoring; introduce and train participants in methods of digital media and storytelling; identify methods for developing and maintaining community and information exchange among workshop participants, including the possible establishment of a global network centered around indigenous communities and rivers. Additional subjects explored during the workshop will be indigenous narratives of how rivers may have changed due to landscape and environmental change, both contemporary and traditional, in order to gain more insights into how communities have responded to these challenges and their dynamic effects on local social and cultural systems. Also discussed by workshop participants will be how modern science contributes tools and additional perspectives to understanding changes in the riverine environment. And, how science and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) can work together for the benefit of indigenous communities. The workshop will include strong participation from both indigenous communities and the scientific community and thus will increase the participation of highly underrepresented groups in science.