Author: Spiler, Emily
The field of restoration ecology has historically been guided by the Western science paradigm, and often restoration activities have been conducted without consideration for local Indigenous people and their perspectives, knowledge, and interests. "Ecocultural restoration" offers a robust model for restoration in Indigenous contexts, where social and cultural revitalization goals and Indigenous knowledge can be deliberately incorporated in restoration initiatives. In a research partnership with Metlakatla First Nation, I pursued three research objectives: 1) Investigate the perspectives of Metlakatla clam harvesters on the condition of butter clam populations in Metlakatla Territory; 2) Investigate the perspectives of members of the Metlakatla First Nation on clam gardens and clam garden restoration; and 3) Develop a clam garden decision guide to inform decisions about potential management or restoration actions for clam beaches in Metlakatla Territory. Metlakatla knowledge, perspectives and values were elicited in focus groups and interviews, and structured decision-making was used to explore three pathways (restore an existing clam garden, build a new clam garden, or continue current practices) and their ability to meet Metlakatla goals. Using this analysis, I developed a Clam Garden Decision Guide to inform Metlakatla's decisions on restoring clam beaches using traditional clam garden practices. Restoring clam gardens is a practical and feasible action that could help to manage and improve the condition and habitat of butter clams in Metlakatla Territory, and guiding principles for effective ecocultural restoration could be used by Metlakatla and other Indigenous communities seeking to implement ecocultural restoration initiatives.
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Thesis advisor: Rutherford, Murray
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