Contributions of Indigenous Knowledge to ecological and evolutionary understanding

by Rainforest Conservation Foundation
April 1, 2022

In the field of ecology, researchers are interested in understanding the complexities and interactions of the many organisms that make up our environments. Over the past two decades, the knowledges of Indigenous peoples has been increasingly represented within scientific literature and with this comes great responsibility. 

Indigenous knowledge (IK) has made extensive contributions to research. Examples abound from the scientific literature where IK has informed applied research, owing in large part to the place-based ecological, cultural, and spiritual knowledges and values that underpin IK. With transmission of information and observations occurring over multiple generations, IK holders draw on broad knowledge and deep ecological baselines unknown in Western science.

IK is a suite of place-based knowledges that are increasingly being represented in the Western science context. When applied together, IK and Western science can lead to mutually beneficial outcomes. Although combining multiple ways of knowing in research is increasing in popularity, scientists must consider past and present injustices toward Indigenous people as well as their ethical duty to IK holders during the research process. 

In the paper Contributions of Indigenous Knowledge to ecological and evolutionary understanding, led by PhD candidate Tyler Jessen, and co-authored by Natalie BanNicholas XEMŦOLTW Claxton, and Chris Darimont, authors synthesize the many contributions of IK and its importance as a distinct but complementary way of knowing to Western science. This review was published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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