Intersection of Western science and Native knowledge

In a recent Native America Calling episode, host Tara Gatewood led a discussion about whether scientists can successfully combine traditional knowledge and Western scientific values. This is a topic of interest to Pebble Watch readers, as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) has a role in the scientific studies of Bristol Bay. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) included traditional knowledge in its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment and the Pebble Limited Partnership dedicated a chapter in its Environmental Baseline Document to “Subsistence and Traditional Knowledge.”

Combining the two approaches can be difficult, as Gatewood’s guests and callers point out on Native America Calling. In the context of Bristol Bay and studies conducted there, the EPA clearly states that there is a role for traditional knowledge: “Scientists recognize the value of working with people who live in an area and who have great insight into the natural processes at work in that area. While the scientific perspective is often different from the traditional perspective, both have a great deal to offer one another. Working together is the best way of helping us achieve a better common understanding of nature.”

Listen to the Native America Calling episode.

Read the PLP Environmental Baseline Document: Subsistence and Traditional Knowledge

Read the EPA Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Characterization of the Indigenous Cultures of the Nushagak and Kvichak Watersheds