We as Indigenous are gathering at the Boston March for Science, to not only show that we are still here, something we frustratingly have to keep reminding people, but that we support science as well, and call that Indigenous Science, be partnered with Western Science as the UN encourages the Western Scientific community to do.
Article 8 of the Convention on Biological Diversity urges us to “…respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity….” (United Nations, 1992).
Indigenous Science has developed a concept of the environment that emphasizes the symbiotic character of humans and nature. It offers an approach to local development that is based on co-evolution with the environment, and on respecting the carrying capacity of ecosystems. This knowledge—based on long-term empirical observations adapted to local conditions—ensures a sound use and control of the environment, and enables indigenous people to adapt to environmental changes. Moreover, it supplies much of the world’s population with the principal means to fulfil their basic needs, and forms the basis for decisions and strategies in many practical aspects, including interpretation of meteorological phenomena, medical treatment, water management, production of clothing, navigation, agriculture and husbandry, hunting and fishing, and biological classification systems (Nakashima & Roué, 2002).
We need to “emphasize a comparison of the attitudes and perspectives towards the natural world which have been developed by different cultural traditions. The primary example with which most of us are familiar is the contemporary Western attitude concerning the management of natural resources, treatment of non-human animals, and the natural world, and emerges from traditions derived from Western European philosophy, i.e. the assumption that humans are autonomous from, and in control of, the natural world.
A different approach is presented by Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of Indigenous peoples of the world. TEK is based on close observation of nature and natural phenomena; however, it is combined with a concept of community membership which differs from that of Western political and social thought. TEK is strongly tied to specific physical localities, therefore, all aspects of the physical space can be considered part of the community, including animals, plants, and landforms. As a consequence, Native worldviews can be considered to be spatially oriented, in contrast to the temporal orientation of Western political and historical thought.
TEK emphasizes the idea that individual plants and animals exist on their own terms. This sense of place and concern for individuals leads to two basic TEK concepts: 1) all things are connected, which is related to Western community ecology, and 2) all things are related, which changes the emphasis from the human to the ecological community as the focus of theories concerning nature. Connectedness and relatedness are involved in the clan systems of many indigenous peoples, where nonhuman organisms are recognized as relatives whom the humans are obliged to treat with respect and honor. Convergence of TEK and western science suggests that there may be areas in which TEK can contribute insights, or possibly even new concepts, to Western science and strategies to manage natural resources and solve environmental problems. ” — Dr. Raymond Pierotti
Native American tribes hold dear the concept of seven generations planning, that the impact of decisions should be considered out seven generations into the future, about 150 years. The idea is that our decisions today should consider the potential benefits or harm that would be felt by seven future generations. While such future-thinking has obvious ethical and moral value, it seems that it may also have scientific validity. – Jennifer Sass