Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Cultural Heritage and Applied Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Kelly Dixon

Committee Co-chair

Anna Prentiss

Commitee Members

John Douglas, Doug MacDonald, Kekek Stark, Brad Hall


GIS, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge, remote sensing


University of Montana


How we see the world and ourselves in relation to it is largely achieved by the lens we are looking through and associated experiences within this relationship. This is additionally true when considering the acknowledged fact that Indigenous Knowledges are derived from natural and cultural sources and these assist in constituting the cultural identities of those Peoples associated with these sources. Presently there is a hunger for access and use of Indigenous Knowledges (IK) as never before seen in public ways, through a national Call for collaborative means to apply these knowledges to such as the issues we globally face as a result of Climate Change. What are Indigenous Knowledges? How are they created? Who holds these and can utilize them in public ways? These questions are an embedded aspect of this Call that requires attention. Further, what impacts exist that benefit, but also challenge, the endeavor to utilize Indigenous Knowledges outside local areas where they are derived? What of these sacred ways of knowing are being negotiated to attain their use? Five areas of concern were identified in response to these questions through application of An Indigenous Research Way (AIRW), a novel continuous improvement model for implementing Indigenous Research Methodologies and Methods, within research design and practice. Synthesizing these concerns into three themes, Education, Technology, and Tribal Leader Decision-Making, awareness was revealed of these as first level and gateway impacts. Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing operationalizes Indigenous worldviews about relationality and this as central to how Indigenous Knowledges Systems (IKS) are created and in turn create Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledges (ITEK). Understanding how we “see” ourselves in relation to this process is imperative. A burgeoning method for seeing landscapes, and they as sources of IK, is through use of remote sensing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). This Phase I study, through a Kin-based Case Study and mixed-methods approach, sought to understand impacts to IKS and ITEK from use of these technologies within tribal landscapes through review and assessment of 73 ESRI tribal GIS public StoryMap projects, led by tribal practitioners, accomplished in 2017 - 2021. Assessment provides there exists an assumption that identifying as being Indigenous includes being a holder of cultural knowledges and that these are utilized at will and regularly. The data troubles this assumption with respect to tribal individuals trained as practitioners of these technologies and their use of ITEK then provided through public digital media. Impacts to IKS and ITEK reveal enhancements and also replacement of the “seeing” accomplished by Indigenous People through technological means and the public perceptions of their cultural lifeways and persona of being Holders of Indigenous Knowledges. These impacts are broad in their implications as they attend to not only understandings of past and present access to ITEK but also future applications that brings the conversation into the realms of understanding being Indigenous off-earth.



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