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College of Humanities & Sciences

Environmental Knowledge of Native Peoples Focus Area

Environmental Knowledge of Native Peoples (also called Traditional Ecological Knowledge or TEK) refers to, "The evolving knowledge acquired by indigenous and local peoples over hundreds or thousands of years through direct contact with the environment. This knowledge is specific to a location and includes the relationships between plants, animals, natural phenomena, landscapes.... It encompasses the world view of indigenous people." (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013)

The Environmental Knowledge (or TEK) focus area is not intended to train students for a specific job, though it does prepare students for the world of work by providing students with an invaluable set of work place skills, including the ability to think for themselves, the skills to communicate effectively, and the capacity for lifelong learning. As Tribes, States and Federal agencies incorporate Environmental Knowledge (or TEK) within their policies, it is essential for Environmental Studies students to understand TEK's role in helping address environmental concerns.

Students in this focus area will explore Environmental Knowledge within the lives of historic and contemporary Native peoples and their communities. Students will work closely with the focus area advisor to select appropriate course work within Environmental Studies and other disciplines.

Faculty contact: Rosalyn LaPier

Courses within Environmental Studies

ENST 391 Environment Montana: From Anaconda to Zortman: Offered Spring. This course will examine the land, people and places of Montana viewed through the lens of environmental change. We will be integrating different perspectives in an effort to understand the historical background of contemporary environmental issues in Montana, through a combination of lectures, readings, focused in-class discussions, and writing assignments.

ENST 410 Traditional Environmental Knowledge of Native Peoples: Offered Spring, every other year. An examination of environmental knowledge of Native Americans and their relationship with nature to provide a foundation for understanding contemporary environmental issues within Native American communities. The course explores how Native peoples found meaning within nature, ethical and religious ideas about nature and how nature helped shape their reality.

ENST 510 Environmental Issues of Native American Communities: Offered Spring. This course is a graduate readings course that will provide a historical overview of federal attitudes and policies toward Native Americans in North America and the environmental issues engendered from these policies, focusing on specific topics: pre-contact America, land ownership and stewardship, water rights, and natural resource development.

ENST 396/595 Supervised Internship: Native Plant Stewardship and Ethnobotany: Offered Fall & Spring. Interns will work on campus learning about Native plants, ethnobotany, invasive species, landscaping and restoring natural areas, in collaboration with UM's Manager of Natural Areas, Marilyn Marler. Students will meet once a week with instructors, plus work 6 hours per week on a project on campus.

University of Montana

Environmental Studies Program

Phil Condon, Director

Tel: (406) 243-6273 | Fax: (406) 243-6090

Jeannette Rankin Hall 106A

32 Campus Drive | Missoula, MT 59812