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College of Humanities & Sciences

Environmental Knowledge of Native Peoples Focus Area

The Environmental Knowledge of Native Peoples focus area within the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Montana is unique, and like all parts of the Program, interdisciplinary in approach and activist in focus.

Environmental Knowledge of Native Peoples (also called Traditional Ecological Knowledge or Indigenous Knowledge) 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 which includes ecology, spirituality, human and animal relationships, and more." (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013)

Students will learn different approaches to explore the role of Environmental Knowledge within the lives of historic and contemporary Native peoples and their communities. As Tribal, State and Federal agencies incorporate Environmental Knowledge (or TEK) within their policies and procedures, it makes it essential for Native and non-Native students to understand its role in helping solve environmental issues.

The culminating project for the Environmental Knowledge focus can be a thesis, professional paper, or portfolio. Students will coordinate with the Environmental Knowledge of Native Peoples focus advisor to select 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, every other year. 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 -- Ethnobotany: Offered Fall. 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.

Courses within the University

NASX 303E Ecological Perspectives in Native American Traditions: Offered Autumn and Spring. An examination of Native American environmental ethics and tribal and historical and contemporary use of physical environmental resources.

NASX 391 - Ethnobotany of Amerindians

Offered intermittently.

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