A Century of Elders Knowledge: A Research Paper to Summarize 18 Years of Oral History Work

Elders knowledgeIn 2003 the Finnish non-profit Snowchange Cooperative was invited by the U’mista Cultural Society and the Kwakiutl Territorial Fisheries Commission to work with a number of ‘Namgis and Dzawada‘enuxw First Nation Elders on oral histories of climate and environmental change.

Over the years a book (2004) and several workshops (2005, 2006, 2010) have conveyed some of the results of this long-term oral history work, but now a new process to publish the results as a peer-reviewed science paper is under way.

A Century of Elders Knowledge will focus on the historical period between the 1910s and 2010, ranging from the era when many of these recorded Elders were born and ending with the devastating flood which affected the Dzawada’enuxw in Kingcome in 2010. By co-writing and co-learning with eight Elders, the science article will summarize:

  • Important messages of Kwakwakwala Indigenous Knowledge over a century of change
  • Interlinkages between the ocean, weather, terrestrial ecosystems and salmon that are often missed by “western science”
  • A dialogue between Indigenous knowledge and weather statistics to determine convergence / divergence in knowledge systems including a literature summary
  • A review of cultural responses to the devastation of the 2010 Kingcome Flood
  • Messages of wisdom and the ethics of good relations with the sea, land and nature based on Elders oral histories

We believe that through the process of understanding the century of change from 1910-2010 the events of the 21st century will be able to be better positioned within a long-term continuum that only Indigenous knowledge can produce.

The primary science team consists of Adjunct Professor, IPCC Lead Author, Tero Yakugladzi Mustonen (Snowchange), Ecologist, Ph D Brie Van Dam (Snowchange) and field researcher Hanna Eklund (at present at Institute of the North, Alaska). Results of the paper will be communicated to the media and to the communities. The expected release of the paper will be late 2021 or early 2022.

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