Honoring Native American Heritage Month

November is National Native American Heritage Month and the Ecological Society of America honors our Native American members and the broader Native American communities as stewards of the lands and waters they have inhabited for many generations, and for the deep knowledge they have of those places. We are grateful for their enduring spirit and generosity in sharing their insights with those who will listen respectfully. Their culture of stewardship and caring relationship with nature are practices that provide insights for reimagining our relationship with nature. This relationality to land should remind all of us, including those in the ESA community, that acknowledging the land entails intentional, respectful engagement with Native communities in every context where we find ourselves engaged in research or where we hold our conferences and gatherings. Moreover, land acknowledgement means ensuring representation and support of Native peoples within the ESA community. National Native American Heritage Month is a reminder of the moral and ethical responsibility we have to maintain relationships based on mutual respect and reciprocity year-round.

For more than 20 years, the ESA Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Section has provided sources of knowledge and insights of human-nature relationships that are critical to the cultural stewardship of ecosystems in which we live. As recent environmental challenges, including land degradation, air and water pollution, and increases in infectious diseases, have accelerated, sharing knowledge between Western scientists and traditional knowledge stewards is critical to overcome these external threats in an equitable way. As the TEK Section has consistently reminded us, our collective future should be founded on a shared story with Native communities, with a storyline of mutual respect and a common goal of equity and justice for all.

The TEK Section is currently conducting monthly webinars to bring Indigenous voices in to share their TEK-related research and experiences with the ESA community, developing new opportunities to support and connect Indigenous students, researchers, and scholars within the broader ESA community, and planning for additional TEK events at the ESA Annual Meeting in Montreal in 2022.

On November 30, the TEK Section will host a forum on enhancing ESA and tribal nations’ engagement (register). This forum will bring members from the TEK/Native/indigenous and the ESA communities together to discuss:

  • How can we make ESA more equitable, inclusive, diverse, accessible, applicable and relevant to tribal nations which includes leaders, students and knowledge holders?
  • How can ESA, other science societies and tribal nations work together in knowledge sharing and governance approaches to foster Native American, native peoples and First Nations native people’s heritage and wellbeing? How does the concept of “ethical space” inform that discussion?
Please donate to the TEK Section’s Indigenous Ecologists Fund in support of these important activities


Dennis Ojima James Rattling Leaf Catherine O’Riordan
President, ESA Chair of ESA TEK Section Executive Director, ESA