Thesis (Ph.D., Natural Resources)--University of Idaho, June 2014 | Increasing pressure and demands on wildlife, plants, ecological systems, and their landscapes underline the growing importance for understanding human-environment interactions. To address land use issues and ecosystem health, environmental managers are integrating traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and indigenous knowledge (IK), knowledge-practice-belief systems, through collaborative efforts. Despite, positive motivations for such strategies, concerns remain regarding whether non-indigenous land and resource managers have the ability to value TEK or IK and whether such community specific and place based knowledge can be integrated into existing management structures without threats to its integrity. Such concerns and challenges are paralleled within academic institutions as indigenous academicians and those working with indigenous communities struggle within the existing institutional structures to support indigenous knowledge and communities.
This doctorate research addresses the integration of community specific and place-based knowledge into both research and environmental management. It explores the challenges academic and management philosophies pose when rooted in notions of a secularism and objectivity to indigenous knowledge and their communities. This dissertation illustrates indigenous knowledge is rooted in a praxis philosophy of coming to know reality through one's subjective relationship with the landscape and their community by using
indigenist theory and NimÃipuu concepts, propositions, and principles. The supporting research was generated collaboratively with Nez Perce tribal participants utilizing an indigenist informed ethnographic approach to explore NimÃipuu knowledge, practice, and perspectives of the landscape and toward environmental management. This dissertation argues both academic research and environmental management involving indigenous communities must integrate ontological, epistemological, and axiological principles of the
communities to support tribal sovereign and self-determination.