Lynn & Whyte: “Indigenous Peoples, Climate Change and the Government-to-Government Relationship”

Kathy Lynn and Kyle Powys Whyte have posted “Indigenous Peoples, Climate Change and the Government-to-Government Relationship” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Climate change impacts present indigenous peoples with distinct challenges, from the loss of species needed for subsistence practices like fishing and plant gathering, to coastal erosion that may force some communities to migrate away from areas they have inhabited or used for many years. Students, activists, environmental managers, scholars and corporate and political leaders of all heritages should be aware of how indigenous peoples must address climate change impacts from global to community-level scales, and the obstacles they may encounter due to intersecting oppressions, like cultural imperialism and disempowerment. To create such awareness, there is a need for more work that describes the specific sites of interaction relevant to indigenous peoples and climate change. Sites of interaction are the local and regional places where indigenous peoples are in relationships with governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), networks and alliances. Better understanding the relationships that indigenous peoples have with these groups and institutions contributes to fostering unique and necessary indigenous approaches to address climate change that reflect their unique cultural connections to the earth. This paper focuses on one of the critical sites of interaction for indigenous peoples in the United States — the government-to-government relationship. While the government-to-government relation is not a new approach, this paper examines how it might operate in indigenous climate change adaptation contexts in the United States. We describe a set of examples of consultation and collaboration and offer seven recommendations that demonstrate the value of tribal responses to climate change.

Kyle Whyte on Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Kyle Whyte has posted his paper “On the Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge as a Collaborative Concept: A Philosophical Study” on SSRN. The paper is forthcoming in Ecological Processes.

Here is the abstract:

The concept of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), along with synonymous or closely related terms like indigenous knowledge and native science, has some of its origins in literatures on international development and adaptive management. There is a tendency to want to determine one definition for TEK that can satisfy every stakeholder in every situation. Yet a scan of environmental science and policy literatures reveals there to be differences in definitions that make it difficult to form a consensus. What should be explored instead is the role that the concept of TEK plays in facilitating or discouraging cross-cultural and cross-situational collaboration among actors working for indigenous and non-indigenous institutions of environmental governance, such as tribal natural resources departments, federal agencies working with tribes, and co-management boards. I argue that the concept of TEK should be understood as a collaborative concept. It serves to invite diverse populations to continually learn from one another about how each approaches the very question of “knowledge” in the first place, and how these different approaches can be blended to better steward natural resources and adapt to climate change. The implication is that environmental scientists and policy professionals, indigenous and non-indigenous, should not be in the business of creating definitions of TEK. Instead, they should focus more on creating long term processes that allow the different implications of approaches to knowledge in relation to stewardship goals to be responsibly thought through.

Reo and Whyte on Indian Hunting and Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Nicholas Reo and Kyle Whyte have posted their paper, “Hunting and Morality as Elements of Traditional Ecological Knowledge,” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The legitimacy of contemporary subsistence hunting practices of North American Indians has been questioned because of hunters’ use of modern technologies and integration of wage-based and subsistence livelihoods. The legitimacy of tribal traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) has been questioned on similar grounds and used as justification for ignoring tribal perspectives on critical natural resource conservation and development issues. This paper examines hunting on the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in North Central Wisconsin, USA. The study documents contemporary hunting practices and the traditional moral code that informs hunting-related behaviors and judgments. Subsistence hunting is framed in the context of TEK and attention focused on the interplay between TEK’s practical and moral dimensions. Results indicate the importance of traditional moral codes in guiding a community’s contemporary hunting practices and the inseparability and interdependence of epistemological, practical, and ethical dimensions of TEK.

Benjamin Richardson on Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Governance

Benjamin Richardson has posted “Ties That Bind: Indigenous Peoples on Environmental Governance” on SSRN. This paper is forthcoming in the book, “Indigenous Peoples and the Law: Comparative and Critical Perspectives.” Here is the abstract:

Canvassing practices in many countries, this chapter analyses the relationships between Indigenous peoples and environmental governance. It examines the environmental values and practices of Indigenous peoples, primarily in order to assess their implications for the Indigenous stake in environmental governance. It identifies at least six major theories or perspectives concerning Indigenous environmental values and practices. Secondly, the chapter reviews the legal norms and governance tools that structure Indigenous involvement in environmental management, in order to assess their relative value for Indigenous stakeholders and implications for sustainable utilisation of natural resources.