Empowering Mountain Cultures
Pre-Inca Technologies for Water Management
TMI Andes Program (Instituto de Montaña) conducted a study of the ancestral technologies used in the Reserva Paisajistica Nor Yauyos Cochas during pre-Inca times to manage high-altitude ecosystems. This study contributes to our understanding of the ways in which ancient cultures managed the land and water. This study was conducted by a team of archeologists led by Dr. Alexander herrera, professor at the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. A summary of this study will soon be published to disseminate knowledge of ancestral technologies that have great potential to be restored. These water management methods from long ago will support modern adaptations to climate change while also affirming traditional knowledge and cultural identity.
Gathering for Our Mountains
TMI Research Associate Jeremy Spoon leads our work with the Nuwuvi Nation (Southern Paiute), which is comprised of seven tribes. This project is a partnership with Portland State University and it seeks to integrate Native American perspectives and strengthen the engagement of native peoples in collaborative natural resource management on public lands in the American West. We have facilitated Native Americans and Federal agencies working together to secure protection of culturally important sites. This project is reinvigorating the Nuwuvi community by bringing young and old together at culturally important sites for traditional practices, such as the Pinyon nut harvest. The Gathering For Our Mountains has been established as an annual event since 2012, bringing together multiple generations of Nuwuvi with the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and community supporters for inter-cultural exchanges, pine nut harvests, demonstrating cultural skills, sharing stories and singing traditional songs. Hosted collaboratively by the federal agencies and the tribes in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (SMNRA) and the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex (DNWRC), the Gathering reunites Nuwuvi with their ancestral lands and creates new pathways for their traditional knowledge and practices.
Protecting Halji Gompa
Drikung Kagyu Thubten Rinchenling Monastery (known as Halji Gompa), is located in the village of Halji in the Limi Valley of northwestern Nepal. Halji Gompa is the spiritual center of the valley. Annual flash floods started to occur in the past few years from a high mountain glacier, sweeping away two houses in the village and threatening to destroy the monastery. With support from the United States Embassy in Nepal, The Mountain Institute has worked closely with the village to build gabions (stone walls) and plant native deep-rooted shrubs along the riverbank to prevent the rapid erosion that threatens the monastery.
Restoration of Pangboche MonasteryThe Mountain Institute restored the sixteenth century Pangboche Monastery located in the village of Pangboche – the highest permanent settlement on the trail to Mount Everest base camp. Pangboche Monastery is one of the oldest centers of Sherpa learning and culture and the restoration required a thorough understanding of local cultures and sensitivities. The restoration focused on the dilapidated courtyard of the monastery. In addition, The Mountain Institute developed interpretive posters and brochures to promote understanding of the monastery and its cultural importance for both locals and tourists.
Native Hawaiian Interpretive Materials ProjectThe Mountain Institute collaborated with the US National Park Service from 1998 to 2009 to develop innovative interpretive and educational materials based on the evocative associations of mountains and mountain environments in Native American, Native Hawaiian, mainstream American and other cultures around the world. TMI Senior Fellow Ed Bernbaum lead this effort. Two of the most active volcanoes in the world—Kilauea and Mauna Loa are part of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Designated a World Heritage Site for its natural value, park management realized that these mountains also have great cultural and spiritual significance for Native Hawaiians as key components of wahi kapu, or revered, sacred places. TMI worked in partnership with the National Park staff to call for a major work of outdoor sculpture that would highlight the significance of Kilauea and Mauna Loa as sacred places in Native Hawaiian tradition. TMI made it possible for the park to call for proposals from artists. The resulting sculpture was installed and dedicated in 2007. The sculpture and overall project helped to strengthen the role of Native Hawaiian culture in Volcanoes National Park and instilled a sense of awe, reverence and respect that connects people to the sacred volcanoes, inspiring them to care for their natural environments. In Honaunau-National-Historical-Park TMI facilitated meetings with Hawaiian community representatives to integrate indigenous cultures and beliefs into exhibits and visitor interpretive materials in this mountainous park.