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Kanaka Maoli (Indigenous Hawaiians) are blessed with a written literature that documents observations and relationships with their environment in the form of chants, stories, and genealogies passed down orally for centuries. These literatures connect them to their ancestral knowledge and highlight species, places, and processes of importance. Such sayings as Pua ka wiliwili, nanahu ka manō (When the wiliwili blossoms, sharks bite), from the Kumulipo (a Kanaka Maoli creation story), are examples of the place of nature, humans, and a specifijic creature—here the shark, or manō—in ecological phenology. This article focuses on manō because of the importance of manō in Hawaiian culture and the availability of historical references, in contrast to the relatively little available scientifijic knowledge. Manō are understood through Hawaiian Indigenous science in their roles as ‘aumakua (guardians) and as unique individuals. By using manō as a lens through which to recognize the uniqueness of the Hawaiian worldview, the author highlights the classifijication system developed and applies this framework in analyzing management scenarios. She argues that using Hawaiian Indigenous science can help adapt new ways to classify our environmental interactions and relationships that will bring us closer to our living relatives. Management decisions regarding culturally important species need not be based solely on the most current Western scientifijic data but can utilize the much longer data set of knowledge stored in Kanaka Maoli oral literature.
Environmental justice is a prominent issue for Native American nations within the United States. One example is the abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation that have been left unremediated since the Cold War. Often, environmental policy is developed for issues facing Native American nations that do not include input from those nations. Instead, Native American nations should have the opportunity to address environmental issues using their traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). TEK has ties to natural laws long respected by tribal communities; these laws provide the foundation for addressing the complex relationship between nature and humans. Often, policy development addressing environmental concerns is determined by non-Native American stakeholders, which can have negative effects on the Native American communities. These policies harm Native Americans rather than ultimately helping them. The focus of this discussion is how TEK can play a role in environmental policy development for the Navajo Nation surrounding abandoned uranium mines.
For over 50 years, the people of the Amskapi Piikani (Blackfeet) Nation have relayed information of “something bad” being covertly dumped within their remaining homelands. These stories, addressing contaminated waste and the locations of rumored dump sites, have also been linked with perceived cancer clusters among residents who live within the Blackfeet Nation. The concept of environmental injustice suggests that often the most vulnerable populations, including communities of color, experience the most negative realities of environmental toxic exposures, and it is not uncommon for toxic wastes to be disposed of within Native American lands. Given that Blackfeet communities suffer from some of the highest rates of cancer in the state of Montana, these narratives warrant further investigation. This research examined whether illicit dumping within Blackfeet sovereign lands can be substantiated and if this is a case of environmental injustice. This investigation employed a mix of both traditional Indigenous and Western-based scientific methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative. Traditional methodologies included the use of Indigenous oral narratives. These oral narratives are then further informed with Western processes of document review and geologic, water, and radiation surveys. The authors found compelling evidence through the oral histories and document reviews for toxic dumping within Blackfeet lands; however, cursory water and radiation surveys were not conclusive. This initial inquiry provides the foundation for further research needed to press this investigation.
Climate change and human activities continue to result in negative environmental impacts that alter land productivity, ecosystem health, and their potential land uses. However, these environmental impacts are being addressed through land restoration frameworks that do not include the robust narrative on the links between land and Indigenous peoples. This link between land and Indigenous peoples is not visible in restoration frameworks owing to the linearity of these frameworks and their deep roots in Western science. In this article, the authors contend that restoration projects must incorporate indicators that reevaluate restoration through an Indigenous lens. Through a literature review and their ongoing restoration project, they identify three major indicators that are important to incorporate in restoration: ecocolonialism, kincentric ecology, and environmental narratives. They apply these indicators to provide the historical context of their ongoing field site, Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center located at Discovery Park, the largest urban park in Seattle, Washington. They conclude that incorporating these three indicators into restoration frameworks not only indigenizes restoration but also can help create more effective solutions to environmental problems persisting for decades in unhealthy ecosystems.
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, and the environment they are in relationship with, have been the targets of exploitation, extraction, and destruction. Environmental atrocities throughout the Pacific have demonstrated how imperialism, capitalism, and white supremacy drive destruction through efforts to dominate and exploit for material gain. The relationship between Pacific people and the environment, which defines who they are socially, spiritually, and ancestrally, continues to be damaged and even severed by these injustices. The purpose of this article is to provide examples of major environmental injustices in the Pacific and to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between settler colonialism and environmental injustices. Indigenous knowledge, with a focus on traditional ecological knowledge, is incorporated not just to demonstrate the deep impact of injustices on Pacific people's cultures but also to highlight how this way of knowing cultivates a path to revitalization and community resilience. Cultural practices rooted in traditional ecological knowledge, such as the preservation of food systems, promote reciprocity between living beings and self-determination, necessary for community flourishing. With this understanding, Pacific peoples' relationship with their land offers further evidence of the critical role culture and Indigenous knowledge can play in environmental justice policies and practices.