Skip to Main Content

Napa Valley College Banner

Welcome to Napa Valley College Library

NAHM 2023 - Gifts of Our Ancestors: Celebrating Indigenous Knowledge and Cultures: Home


Banner with

Gifts of Our Ancestors

      Illustration with three deer, and a salmon with a red target symbol encompassing them all

Bringing Back the Balance.  Painting by Lyn Risling (Karuk, Yurok, Hoopa Tribal Member).

A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu

Celebrating Indigenous Knowledge and Cultures

"Humans were generating, transmitting, and applying information about the natural world long before scientific inquiry was formalized.  Indigenous peoples around the world have developed, maintained, and evolved knowledge systems via direct experience interacting with biophysical and ecological processes.  Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is the collective term to represent the many place-based knowledges accumulated across generations within myriad specific cultural contexts.  Despite its millennia-long and continued application by Indigenous peoples to environmental management, non-Indigenous "Western" scientific research and management have only recently considered IK.  The varied contributions of IK stem from long periods of observation, interaction, and experimentation with species, ecosystems, and ecosystem processes."1 

Chart comparing IK Emphasis, Western Science Emphasis and Commonalities

"Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is the on-going accumulation of knowledge, practice and belief about relationships between living beings in a specific ecosystem that is acquired by indigenous people over hundreds or thousands of years through direct contact with the environment, handed down through generations, and used for life-sustaining ways.  The knowledge includes the relationships between people, plants, animals, natural phenomena, landscapes, and timing of events for activities such as hunting, fishing, trapping, agriculture and forestry.  It encompasses the world view of a people, which includes ecology, spirituality, human and animal relationships and more."2

1 From Jessen, Ban, Claxton and Darimont, "Contributions of Indigenous Knowledge to Ecological and Evolutionary Understanding" Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2022:20(2): 93-101. doi:10.1002.

2 Synopsis of Traditional Ecological Knowledge, National Park Service.