Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Knowing which way the wind blows: Weather observation, belief and practice in Native Oklahoma
by Peppler, Randy A., Ph.D., The University of Oklahoma, 2011, 298; 3490570
Abstract (Summary)

I conducted field interviews and observed and participated in farming and cultural activities to understand how Native American farmers and traditionalists in southwestern Oklahoma conceptualize weather and climate, particularly in local, observational ways, and how the insight they glean from their observations is helping inform renewed efforts to farm, garden, and ranch within a broader framework of agricultural independence and self-determination. Many of the farmers explained that while they consult modern weather and climate forecasts to help guide their farming decisions, they prize their own observations and indicators as providing a local relevance and situational awareness they cannot obtain from other informational sources, and they use the insights gained from them as a key part of an actionable knowledge complex for decision making. My research findings suggest that the observational and performative ritual components of their knowledge are deeply rooted in a belief system that promotes an intimate, reciprocal relationship with the non-human world, and are initially formed through intergenerational transfer as passed down from family members. Their knowledge is culturally situated as “ways of knowing of the ancestors” and is subject to mediation through various social and group influences. The observational and performative aspects of their knowledge are practiced and renewed routinely within agriculture and during times of pandemonium such as an approaching tornado, and adapt and evolve as a matter of that experience, and also adapt and evolve in response to what they perceive as changing conditions due to increased climate variability.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Offen, Karl H.
Commitee: Greene, John S., Gruntfest, Eve C., Postawko, Susan E., Rundstrom, Robert A.
School: The University of Oklahoma
Department: Department of Geography
School Location: United States -- Oklahoma
Source: DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Geography, Meteorology, Native American studies
Keywords: Agriculture, Climate, Native American, Oklahoma, Traditional knowledge, Weather
Publication Number: 3490570
ISBN: 9781267115645
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