Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Discipline

Biology

New!The Navajo Horse Policy Dilemma: Too Many Horses? T’ooahayoo Nihilii?

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff, PhD

Wild horses have long been a symbol of the West. For Dine people on the Navajo Reservation, horses are at the center of multiple relationships for healing, cultural meanings and practical use. Today, the lines between wild horses and feral horses are blurred in federal policy and in tribal policy as horse populations seem to be growing. The numbers for the Navajo Reservation are unusually high, and tribal leaders have tried several policies. Policy fragmentation, lack of credible numbers, and unknown genetic and physical impacts to herds from removing horses create significant challenges for tribal leaders. Recent attempts to create partnership hold promise, but the way forward remains unclear and new strategies will need to be forged.

New!Darkness to Dawn: Columbia River Native Tribes’ Science and Salmon Restoration Success

Author:Brian Footen

From the start of its 1243 mile journey in the Canadian Rockies all the way to the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia River drains the heart, soul and bounty of the Pacific Northwest. In this water is a history of a river and people that goes back 15,000 years. The bountiful water has supplied the world with food and energy. The development of the river for hydro-power and irrigation has played a critical role in modern history. This development, however, has come at great cost to the original inhabitants of the area and the primary resource that they thrived on: the salmon. The Nez Perce, NiMiiPuu, lived in the Columbia River basin for thousands of years. This existence was altered by the arrival of European settlers, and in 1855, the Nez Perce signed a treaty that defined an area over which they had jurisdiction and rights to the resources, including salmon, vital to their culture and survival. Since then salmon populations have declined. Dams and the resulting habitat degradation have had negative impacts on salmon survival. Some populations have been listed as endangered, and policies regarding how these fish are treated have complicated the recovery process. Recent efforts by the Nez Perce tribe, however, have shown that in spite of a mechanized river and political resistance, the river still has enough bounty to bring back a salmon run that was nearly extinct.

New!Water Quality, Environment and Ethics Under Conditions of Climate Change: Who Speaks for the San Francisco Peaks?

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff

This case explores a place where religion, culture, politics and science intersected in the San Francisco Peaks controversy. The controversy began in 1908 when the Peaks first became part of the Forest Service system. When the Arizona Snowbowl, a private resort concession, came to the mountain, pressures grew: corporate owners saw limitations of profit-making proposals as an unfair limitation. Expansionary developments threatened the religion and cultural practices of 13 Arizona Tribes. Concern for pristine natural values associated with the Peaks deepened after designation of the Kachina Wilderness Area in 1984. Drought and climate change strained the mountain’s role in recharging the Inner Basin, and the ski resort’s existence. This case deals with the conflict of values around religion, water, scientific interpretation and land use under conditions of climate change.

New!Sustaining Oomingmak, Sustain Us: Alaska Natives and the Muskox Adapt to Social and Ecological Change

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff

This case explores evolutionary adaptation from biological and social-cultural perspectives. Evolutionary forces, including climate change, cultural, and economic change accelerate adaptation and underline the need for adjusting interactions between people and their environment. New relationships between the muskox (Obivos mochatus) and Alaska Natives are evolving. This case leads to questions about what science, economic institutions and traditional knowledge can do to support useful adaptations that contribute to healthy futures for the muskoxen and Alaska Natives. It raises further questions about the domestication of wild species and the impacts of climate change.

Co-Management of Puget Sound Salmon: How well does the Use and Collection of Shared Fishery Science between Tribes and the State Guide Resource Protection?

Author:Brian Footen

The history of salmon management in the Pacific Northwest is complex. Indigenous management of fisheries was partially incorporated into treaties but it took nearly 100 years for a legal framework for implementing the fisheries components of the treaties to be put into place. The restoration of Northwest Treaty Tribes fishing rights brought Native people the difficult task of working directly with the institution that had prosecuted treaty violations and discriminated against tribal fishers. The ability of the State and Tribes to work together to “co-manage” salmon stocks has improved over the years and has been spelled out in additional court decisions. However, difficulties still arise from institutional holdover views about tribal fishing rights and the belief that the State still has the overriding authority in resource management decisions. In addition, management objectives do not always mesh with the historic or contemporary cultural needs of tribal fishers.

New!Pebbles of Gold or Salmon of Time: Pebble Mine and the Cultural and Environmental Economics of Alaska Natives

Author:Brian Footen

Alaska’s Bristol Bay is home to the most productive salmon runs in the world. For over 9,000 years, the indigenous people of the region have survived because of the salmon. In 2005 the Pebble Mine Project was proposed by the Pebble Partnership (PLP). The project proposal is to extract massive deposits of copper, gold and other minerals from the mountains making up the headwaters of Bristol Bay. The proposal has polarized people within the Native communities of the region. This case explores the trade off that is often made when jobs and profit are pitted against environmental protection.

Native Fishing Practices and Oxygen Depletion in Hood Canal

Author:Cole, Robert S.

This case examines the contribution of dumping chum salmon carcasses into Hood Canal to the lowering of dissolved oxygen in the Canal. A report by the Puget Sound Action Team and the Hood Canal Coordinating Council studied the contribution of different factors to low dissolved oxygen levels in Hood Canal. This report presented the Skokomish Tribal Nation with a potential public relations issue regarding their traditional practices of dumping the chum salmon carcasses into the Canal. Students are challenged to discuss recommendations about what actions the Skokomish Nation should take based upon the findings of the report, upon issues of economic impact on tribal fishers, and upon issues of equity in addressing environmental problems.

New!Back to the Future: Dam Removal and Native Salmon Restoration on the Elwha River

Author:Brian Footen and Jovana Brown

Dams on the Elwha River in Washington State have blocked salmon migration for one hundred years. These dams are now being removed. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe is looking forward to having its treaty rights to fish from the Elwha River restored. This case examines two approaches for restoring harvestable, viable, and self-sustaining salmon runs to the River.

Impacts of Global Climate Change on Tribes in Washington

Author:Rob Cole

This case study is an introduction to the potential impacts of global climate change on some of the tribal lands in Washington State. It explores specifically the impacts of sea level rise on tribal lands in coastal regions, or in the Puget Sound region. The case is based upon the scientific evidence for global climate change, and the measured sea level rise in Seattle over the past century. The case examines the effects of winter storm surges coupled with high tides, as well as the increased rate of severe winter storms and associated flooding in river and estuary regions. This case is designed as a ‘clicker case’ to be used in conjunction with interrupted lecture or interrupted workshop formats of presentation.

Impacts of Global Climate Change on Tribes in Washington Part II

Author:Rob Cole

This case study is an introduction to the potential impacts of global climate change on some of the tribal lands in Washington State. It explores specifically the impacts of sea level rise on tribal lands in coastal regions, or in the Puget Sound region. The case is based upon the scientific evidence for global climate change, and the measured sea level rise in Seattle over the past century. The case examines the effects of winter storm surges coupled with high tides, as well as the increased rate of severe winter storms and associated flooding in river and estuary regions. This case is designed as a ‘clicker case’ to be used in conjunction with interrupted lecture or interrupted workshop formats of presentation.

Pacific Northwest Salmon Habitat: The Culvert Case and the Power of Treaties

Author:Jovana J. Brown, PhD and Brian Footen

American Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest signed treaties with the federal government in the 1850’s that preserved their right to fish in their “usual and accustomed” fishing grounds. The tribes have had to continually fight to have this right recognized. U.S. v. Washington, 1974, the Boldt decision, upheld this fishing right and ruled that the tribes were entitled to 50% of the harvestable portion of salmon returning to their usual and accustomed grounds. Though this historic court decision enabled the Indians to legally fish, the decline of the salmon has meant that the importance of this decision has been eroded. For the last three decades the tribes have worked to preserve salmon runs by protecting and restoring fish habitat. The tribes are in a unique position to advance habitat restoration on a landscape scale. Restoring fish passage in streams throughout the state is an example of how the power of the treaties can facilitate salmon recovery significantly. In 2001, they went into federal district court with a specific habitat lawsuit: the culvert case. The decision in this case has been called the most significant victory for tribal treaty fishing rights since the Boldt decision.

Flathead Lake Fish and Methylmercury: Treaty Rights & Human Rights

Author:Lori Lambert, PhD, DS, RN

This case examines the presence of methymercury (MeHg) in Flathead Lake on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana, home of the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille Peoples. The presence of MeHg is affecting the health of fish, osprey, tribal and community members. It is a particularly devastating problem for pregnant women as the developing fetus is particularly susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of methylmercury. It is time for action to address this environmental problem, but the solution to this issue is complex and raises a host of scientific, educational, and intergovernmental issues.

Should the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Invest in a Woody Biomass Co-generation Facility?

Author:Kathleen M. Saul

Decades of fire suppression have left the national forests overgrown, littered with dead branches, leaves, and pine needles, and vulnerable to catastrophic wild fires. Global climate change has prompted an interest in sources of electricity that emit less carbon dioxide than coal. Those two factors come together as the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs decide whether to build a facility that uses woody materials (“biomass”) to generate electricity. The case explores some of the environmental, regulatory, and economic factors the Tribes might want to consider in their decision making process.

Climate Change Implications for the Quileute and Hoh Tribes

Author:Chelsie Papiez

Native peoples are the world’s early warning system that climate change is affecting human communities. Climate disruptions are impacting hardest on their place-based rights and way of life. On the northern coast of Washington State, Traditional Ecological Knowledge gathered through in-depth interviews strongly suggests climate change is impacting the reservations of the Quileute and Hoh peoples. Both Nations live on low-lying coastline, bordered on three sides by the Olympic National Park, and are susceptible to sea-level rise, extreme storm surge events, and shoreline erosion. Among the key impacts identified, TEK tells us that species range shifts in the ocean are becoming more common with the arrival of new warm water species. This change alone poses negative implications for Native and non-Native peoples.

When Our Water Returns: The Gila River Indian Community and Diabetes

Author:Jovana J. Brown

The Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) of Arizona has the highest rate of diabetes in the world. Before white settlement of their homeland in central Arizona, their ancestors had an abundant water supply and a flourishing agricultural lifestyle. In the late 19th and early 20th century, non-Indian water use completely cut off their water supply. This depletion led to many years of starvation and then to a diet of highly processed foods that some say is responsible for the obesity and diabetes in the GRIC. After many years of negotiation, a water-rights settlement has been reached to return water to the ownership of the Gila River Indian Community. Research has shown that a diet that resembles the one that their ancestors ate when they were an agricultural people combined with increased physical activity can reduce the rate of obesity and diabetes. Will the return of their water enable the GRIC to return to their past agricultural practices? Can the members of this southern Arizona tribe again raise the kinds of crops as they did in the past? Can their previous healthy lifestyle of generations ago be restored?

River Flow for Riparian Health

Author:Robert S. Cole

For more than eighty years the Skokomish Nation on Hood Canal in Washington State has been in dispute about the diversion of the North Fork of the Skokomish River for a hydroelectric project. The diversion of the North Fork’s flow left no water downstream, which negatively impacted the salmon population that the Skokomish had traditionally fished. The attempts to relicense the two dams on the North Fork resulted in a protracted legal struggle that is still ongoing. However, Tacoma Power (owner of the dams) agreed in March of 2008 to release a fraction of the water that they had been diverting, and agreed to release this water in a constant flow. The manner in which water is released from a dam on a river has a huge impact on the downstream health of the riparian system. This case will examine constant flow and variable flow options for release of water from dam on the North Fork of the Skokomish River. It is a case about making Tribal judgments based on scientific approaches.

Luna / Tsu-xiit the “Whale”: Governance Across (Political and Cultural) Borders

Author:Emma S. Norman, Ph.D., Northwest Indian College

This case examines the multiple discourses (identities) created around Luna, a lone juvenile orca (or killer whale, Orcinus orca) in the remote waters off of the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This case illustrates the complexities associated with managing “resources” that transcend both political borders (in this case, the Canada-U.S. border) and cultural borders (Western - non-Western). The case compares the experiences of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, which recognizes Luna (or, in the perception and language of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht, Tsu-xiit) as its chief incarnate, with those of governmental employees (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, or DFO) who are charged with the task of protecting marine life and habitat. The case illustrates how a single living being can hold multiple meanings to multiple people. In so doing, the story of Luna brings to light two main points: Modern conceptions of nature are constructed socially, and governance of shared resources requires an acceptance of diverse worldviews – particularly in the case Native and Western belief systems.

Silak: Ice and Consciousness. The Arctic and Climate Change

Author:Lori Lambert, PhD

Climate change is the number one threat to the 22,000 polar bears that remain in the world. Currently, polar bears are suffering from a loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic. Polar bears are dependent upon an Arctic sea ice environment for their continued existence. As sea ice is being reduced in the Arctic, the polar bears’ basis for survival is being threatened. Because the sea ice is melting earlier in the spring, polar bears are being forced to the land without building up sufficient fat reserves to survive until the next freeze up. By the end of the summer they are skinny bears and in places like the Hudson Bay in Canada their ability to successfully raise a litter is being jeopardized. Inuit people are also affected by warming climate. Their way of life and their culture is based on sea ice.

Evil Water: The Problem of Alcoholism in Indian Country

Author:Singh, Subodh, Sinte Gleska University

This case tells the story of a small group of students studying chemistry at a tribal college on an Indian reservation. The students are concerned about the problem of alcoholism on their reservation and the pending discussion in the tribal council about lifting the ban on the sale of alcohol on the reservation. In class their professor explains the effects of alcoholic beverages on the human body. The students then brainstorm and research additional questions that are important in taking an informed position on lifting the ban on alcohol sales.

Salmon and Contamination in the Columbia River

Author:Lambert, Lori

Thousands of years ago the lands and rivers around Celilo Falls were huge trading areas where as many as 5000 people would come to trade for Salmon. It was a time for abundance and socialization. In the later part of the 1950s, after the development of hydroelectric dams on the Columbia, the tribal people lost the sacred falls, their Salmon, and their way of life. Today, the Columbia River is used as a major transportation artery as well as a source of hydroelectric power. The waters of the Columbia River are contaminated, dams have slowed the flow of the river, and in some cases the migration of the Salmon is impeded. The Salmon are contaminated with hundreds of toxins and the people who eat them are suffering from cancer and other ailments.

Meth in Indian Country: A Call to Action

Author:Marchand-Cecil, Cindy

Those who provide social services in the homes of community members are oftentimes overwhelmed at the dysfunction in family systems. Personal experiences become a call to action both to bring attention to the issues, but also to find ways to address and resolve them. The impact of methamphetamine use and the way it harms children and families is one such social problem. While dealers have permeated the country with illicit drugs, the situation has become an epidemic in Indian Country. Looking at this problem through the eyes of a social service provider who works a local nonprofit social service organization in rural Thurston County, Washington, this case explores the roots of the methamphetamine problem in Indian Country, and shares various strategies at the federal and local level to deal with it.