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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Negotiating knowledges, shifting access: Natural resource governance with Indigenous communities and state agencies in the Pacific Northwest
by Diver, Sibyl Wentz, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2014, 229; 3686258
Abstract (Summary)

Despite an increasing interest among land managers in collaborative management and learning from place-based Indigenous knowledge systems, natural resource management negotiations between Indigenous communities and government agencies are still characterized by distrust, conflict, and a history of excluding Indigenous peoples from decision-making. In addition, many scholars are skeptical of Indigenous communities attempting to achieve self-determination through bureaucratic and scientific systems, which can be seen as potential mechanisms for co-opting Indigenous community values (e.g. Nadasdy 2003).

This dissertation considers how Indigenous communities and state agencies are meeting contemporary natural resource governance challenges within the Pacific Northwest. Taking a community-engaged scholarship approach, the work addresses two exemplar case studies of Indigenous resource management negotiations involving forest management with the Karuk Tribe in California (U.S.) and the Xáxli'p Indigenous community in British Columbia (Canada). These cases explore the ways and degree to which Indigenous peoples are advancing their self-determination interests, as well as environmental and cultural restoration goals, through resource management negotiations with state agencies—despite the ongoing barriers of uneven power relations and territorial disputes.

Through the 1990s and 2000s, both the Xáxli'p and Karuk communities engaged with specific government policies to shift status quo natural resource management practices affecting them. Their respective strategies included leveraging community-driven management plans to pursue eco-cultural restoration on their traditional territories, which both overlap with federal forestlands. In the Xáxli'p case, community members successfully negotiated the creation of the Xáxli'p Community Forest, which has provided the Xáxli'p community with the exclusive right to forest management within the majority of its traditional territory. This de jure change in forest tenure facilitated a significant transfer of land management authority to the community, and long-term forest restoration outcomes. In the Karuk case, tribal land managers leveraged the Ti Bar Demonstration Project, a de facto co-management initiative between the Forest Service and the Karuk Tribe, to conduct several Karuk eco-cultural restoration projects within federal forestlands. Because the Ti Bar Demonstration Project was ultimately abandoned, the main project outcome was building the legitimacy of Karuk land management institutions and creating a wide range of alliances that support Karuk land management approaches.

Through my case studies, I examined how Indigenous resource management negotiations affect knowledge sharing, distribution of decision-making authority, and longstanding political struggles over land and resource access. I first asked, how is Indigenous knowledge shaping natural resource management policy and practice? My analysis shows that both communities are strategically linking disparate sets of ideas, including Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Western scientific knowledge, in order to shape specific natural resource governance outcomes. My second question was, how does access to land and resources shift through Indigenous resource management agreements? This work demonstrates that both communities are shifting access to land and resources by identifying "pivot points": existing government policies that provide a starting point for Indigenous communities to negotiate self-determination through both resisting and engaging with government standards. And third, I considered how do co-management approaches affect Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination? The different case outcomes indicate that the ability to uphold Indigenous resource management agreements is contingent upon establishing long-term institutional commitments by government agencies, and the broader political context.

This work emphasizes the importance of viewing the world from the standpoint of individuals who are typically excluded from decision-making (Harding 1995, 1998). Pursuing natural resource management with Indigenous peoples is one way for state agencies to gain innovative perspectives that often extend beyond standard resource management approaches, and consider longstanding relationships between people and the environment in a place-based context. Yet the assumption that tribal managers would export Indigenous knowledge to agency "professionals" or other external groups, supposedly acting on behalf of Indigenous peoples, reflects a problematic lack of awareness about Indigenous perspectives on sovereignty and self-determination--central goals for Indigenous communities that choose to engage in natural resource management negotiations.

Several implications emerge from these findings. First, Indigenous community representatives need to be involved in every step of natural resource management processes affecting Indigenous territories and federal forestlands, especially given the complex, multi-jurisdictional arrangements that govern these areas. Second, there is a strong need to generate funding that enables Indigenous communities to self-determine their own goals and negotiate over land management issues on a more level playing field. Finally, more funding must be invested in government programs that support Indigenous resource management.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Carlson, Stephanie M., TallBear, Kimberly
Commitee: Fortmann, Louise, Huntsinger, Lynn, Power, Mary E.
School: University of California, Berkeley
Department: Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental management, Natural Resource Management, Environmental science
Keywords: Co-management, Forest policy, Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous resource management, Klamath basin, Natural resource governance
Publication Number: 3686258
ISBN: 978-1-321-63006-0
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