Bowman Leigh

Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Denise Dowling

Committee Co-chair

Lee Banville

Commitee Members

Denise Dowling, Lee Banville, Rosalyn LaPier


Indigenous knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Western science, Tribal co-management, Environmental stewardship, Resource management


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Communication | Journalism Studies | Nature and Society Relations


In the era of climate change, humans are grappling with how to ensure that natural resources exist into the future. For millennia, Indigenous people have actively managed the environment, drawing upon deep connections to the land passed down through generations. The Western worldview, on the other hand, sees humans as separate from nature — an attitude that has led to many of the environmental crises we see today.

This portfolio examines places and programs where Western science and Indigenous knowledge (IK) or traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) come together to shape environmental stewardship. Western science and IK/TEK are inherently different ways of knowing. Rather than intersecting, they run parallel and complement one another, offering new insight. The following stories provide a window into what can happen when connections between these two knowledge systems occur.

The first story is an audio piece that focuses on the Fort Belknap Grassland Restoration Project, which is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the Fort Belknap Indian Community and the Bureau of Land Management. The program trains Native youth to be field technicians in the field of ecological restoration and shares Aaniiih and Nakoda knowledge to connect youth with their tribal culture.

The second story profiles Keith Parker, Yurok tribal member and senior fisheries biologist for the Yurok Tribe. Parker’s graduate research identified two subspecies of Pacific lamprey by drawing from both TEK and Western science. His findings are helping scientists, including Parker, steward Pacific lamprey into the future, which will support tribal food sovereignty and ecological health in the Klamath River basin.

The final story profiles Morgan Zedalis, Heritage Program manager for the Payette National Forest in central Idaho. Zedalis and her team, who are responsible for sharing and protecting cultural resources on public lands, are building a long-term partnership with the Nez Perce Tribe to preserve cultural sites within the forest. By working with tribes to document the cultural value of different sites, the Heritage Program is moving away from a strictly Western view of archaeology and embracing a more holistic approach to resource management that honors and incorporates TEK.



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