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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

Traditional Ecological Knowledge

This site provides documentation related to the ways in which Native people acquire and utilize knowledge related to the ecological system in which they are situated. Anyone wishing to contribute to this site is encouraged to contact the coordinator of the Alaska Native Knowledge Network at (907) 474-1902, or send an email message to

Herman Kitka Traditional Ecological Knowledge
"Tlingit traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is the product of generations of learning and experience with the lands, waters, fish, plants, wildlife, and other natural resources of Southeast Alaska. As Sitka elder Herman Kitka Sr. shows, Tlingits were trained from an early age to be aware of and respect the community of living beings that surrounds them."

Traditional Knowledge in Social-Ecological System
Edited by Carl Floke
" The special feature of Ecology and Society on Traditional Knowledge in Social–Ecological Systems consists of 11 contributions, covering issues of conservation, ecosystem management, and governance in arctic, temperate, and tropical environments. These articles reflect on the difficulties, but also the potential to be found, in combining knowledge, institutional arrangements, and cultural foundations of traditional and local societies with contemporary society."

Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge
UNESCO (United Natons Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations) collected examples which show how Indigenous knowledge utilized.

Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS)
Sponsored by UNESCO (United Natons Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations)
Excerpt: "The LINKS project builds dialogue amongst traditional knowledge holders, natural and social scientists, resource managers and decision-makers to enhance biodiversity conservation and secure an active and equitable role for local communities in resource governance. The survival of indigenous knowledge as a dynamic and vibrant resource within rural and indigenous communities depends upon its continuing transmission from generation to generation. "

The Alaska Native Science Commission's Alaska Traditional Knowledge and Native Foods Database is available online at:

Giving Traditional Ecological Knowledge Its Rightful Place in Environmental Impact Assessment
Over the past two decades, governments and southern developers have turned increasingly to the North in their search for economic opportunities....This growing interest, and the coincident planning and investment in northern development projects, raises environmental concerns within aboriginal communities, environmental organizations, and public-interest groups...

AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Handbook on Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge
Excerpt: "Realizing that defensive disclosure is not the only option for traditional knowledge holders, AAAS has created a handbook that attempts to make intellectual property protection options more understandable and readily available for traditional knowledge holders."

Native Americans and the Environment
Excerpt: "This web site was largely researched, written, marked-up, programmed and maintained by one individual, Dr. Alx Dark, an anthropologist who studies the politics of land and treaty rights. His work has particularly focused on the negotiation of treaties in British Columbia and the environmental politics of First Nations land rights. In the spring of 2001 Alx kindly donated the NAE site to the National Library for Science and the Environment, where it is now managed by the Minority Communities Program of the National Council for Science and the Environment."

Gwich'in Environmental Knowledge Project
Excerpt: The Gwich'in Environmental Knowledge Project (GEKP) collects information on traditional environmental knowledge (TEK), spiritual beliefs, and ethical principles of the Gwich'in Nation. The Gwich'in live along the Mackenzie River Valley in the Arctic region of Canada's Northwest Territories and are one of the world's few indigenous groups that continue to sustain themselves on the resources of the land, much as their ancestors have done for centuries. They are working to preserve their environmental knowledge and traditional spirituality, and pass it to future generations at a time when the traditional oral and on-the-land teaching and learning are disappearing.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Beluga Whales
Henry P.Huntington & Nikolai I. Mymrin
Excerpt: Traditional Ecological Knowledge (or TEK) is a system of understanding one's environment. It is built over generations, as people depend on the land and sea for their food, materials, and culture. TEK is based on observations and experience, evaluated in light of what one has learned from one's elders. People have relied on this detailed knowledge for their survival--they have literally staked their lives on its accuracy and repeatability. TEK is an important source of information and understanding for anyone who is interested in the natural world and the place of people in the environment. Many scientists recognize the value of working with people who live in an area and who have great insight into the natural processes at work in that area. While the scientific perspective is often different from the traditional perspective, both have a great deal to offer one another. Working together is the best way of helping us achieve a better common understanding of nature.

Indigenous Peoples Restoration Network
Excerpt: "Indigenous peoples bear a cultural and spiritual tradition that integrates culture and nature. While this tradition has been badly fragmented under the impacts of modern industrial civilization, it persists to some degree in most traditional communities and has been maintained largely intact in remote places scattered throughout the world. - 1995 IPRN Founding Mission Statement"



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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
Questions or comments?
Last modified June 20, 2012