Collaborating with Native Americans and Federal Agencies on Protected LandsIn the Western USA, TMI is using its decades of experience working with mountain people to serve as intermediary and bridge. TMI Senior Fellow Jeremy Spoon leads this work in partnership with Portland State University. We facilitate collaboration between Native Americans and the Federal Agencies that manage the land and natural resources that are key to indigenous cultures and their survival. Native Americans’ traditional knowledge is essential to conservation efforts and we work to secure a more effective role for them in the management of protected areas. Our ongoing work in the The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (SMNRA) and Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex (DNWRC) of Nevada is focused on the Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) Nation. Our goal is to help reunite native peoples with their ancestral territories and to reinforce the transmission of traditional knowledge to the next generation.
Gathering for Our Mountains
The Gathering For Our Mountains is an annual event, started in 2012, which brings together multiple generations of Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) with the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and community supporters to engage in inter-cultural exchange, harvest pine nuts, demonstrate cultural skills, share stories and sing 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) and facilitated by The Mountain Institute and Portland State University, the Gathering reunites Nuwuvi with their ancestral lands and creates new pathways for communication. Multiple generations come together each year to renew familial ties, make connections with their friends and partners and care for the land.
Tribal Revegetation Project - Nevada Test Site
Representatives from the Consolidated Group of Tribes and Organizations (CGTO) are working with the Environmental Management Program of the Nevada National Security Site (Nevada Test Site) in a revegatation project that combines indigenous knowledge from three ethnic groups (16 tribes) with restoration ecology. Begun in 2016, this project addresses the challenges of revegetating the complex terrain of the Mojave Dessert at a low-level nuclear waste storage area. The approach incorporatesby knowledge and wisdom gained from traditions and practical skills passed down for generations. The six chosen CGTO members represent three broad tribal ethnic groups: Southern Paiute, Western Shoshone, and Owens Valley Paiute. Two members from each group are working with CGTO spokesperson Richard Arnold and The Mountain Institute’s Senior Fellow and ethnoecologist Dr. Jeremy Spoon. According to Mr. Arnold, “The land is out of balance…and the only way that can be corrected is with tribal intervention. That’s why [the CGTO] is involved. We have a cultural responsibility and serve as the voice of the land.”
Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center
After many years of planning and research by the Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) Nation (comprised of 7 tribes), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and local stakeholders inaugurated a new visitors center at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge in 2015. Interpretive signs, exhibits and trails were developed in a collaborative process that was facilitated by The Mountain Institute and Portland State University. This project created ways for all partners to work together, allowing a diversity of perspectives to be expressed in the design and construction process.