Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Integrating TEK and World Renewal Ceremonies into Fire Adaptation

The late LaVerne Glaze, a Karuk basket weaver, harvesting willow, overlooking the Klamath River. Photo: Frank Lake, USDA Forest Service and Karuk Tribe.

Bill Tripp, Karuk Tribal member and Deputy Director of Eco-Cultural Revitalization for the Tribe's Department of Natural Resources shares his experiences in a recent FAC Network blog with using Traditional Ecological Knowledge to identify priorities for land management projects.

The Karuk Tribe's Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and belief systems are constructed and preserved through stories, practices and interactions with the natural world. Rooted in northern California, members of the Karuk Tribe celebrate a number of rituals including World Renewal Ceremonies. These ceremonies are a key part of their community's social fabric. They align the Karuk culture with ecosystem process and function. In their world view, cultural resources have a life and each life deserves consideration when planning projects, including fire adaptation projects.
The Western Klamath Restoration Partnership, a forest restoration partnership that the Karuk Tribe co-leads (and one of the original Cohesive Strategy funded projects), references these ceremonies when identifying which resources and species to prioritize when making land management plans and decisions.
The Partnership began with a narrow focus on five species: willow, the Pacific fisher, the northern spotted owl, Roosevelt elk, and the Pacific giant salamander. Each for the their own reasons, the Partnership considers these habitat and ecosystem needs when prioritizing restoration projects.  
Traditional burning is an important eco-cultural practice for the Karuk Tribe and is a valuable part of the restoration process.  Rather than thinking about "ecosystem services that benefit humans," they prioritize "human services that benefit ecosystems."  In this way, the Partnership can consider the species' habitat, wildfire issues and human usage of the landscape when planning restoration projects.
For more about the five species and their specific roles within the TEK approach to restoration planning, click here

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