Traditional Ecological Knowledge and the conservation of natural resources
Nature as w e know it means different things to different people. To an economist, natural is often seen as a resource to be transformed and put in readiness for human use. An alternative view is that humans are stewards who should care for natural things as well as making use of nature’s bounty. Another view is that nature of animism, which sees nature as a living thing, something to be respected and not controlled. Some native American’s view the earth as a sacred place could be called animist. Another alternative view is that the entire planet earth is a self correcting system based on a symbiotic relationship between the earth and the living beings(Peacock, 1996). This symbiotic view is called, the Gaia Hypothesis. Some scientists view nature as something that is dangerous and disoriented, so it must be tamed by science.
Throughout history in North America, the indigenous peoples culture, tradition and religion have always differed from the western way of life. In this essay, I will explore three views of nature-indigenous people’s view of nature, western science view and the economist view. Second, I will take a look out how a more ecocentric view can be formed by amalgamating western science with traditional ecological view of nature. I believe that understanding why conservation of our natural resources is important will go a long way in helping us understand why our individual action affects the ecosystem.
About three years ago, I became interested in the indigenous people’s view of nature when I saw a documentary which explored the indigenous people way of culture and beliefs. What I was fascinated about was when the presenter of the documentary discussed about the principle of hunting in indigenous tradition. Indigenous people set out to just like everybody else to look for food in order to provide for their family, when they kill an animal, they believe that the animal is given to them by the land. They do not believe that they kill the animal because of how skilled a hunter they were. In order to show their gratitude to the land, they make sure that they do not misuse the meat that they derive from such animal.
Who are the indigenous people? Emery and Associates defined indigenous people as descent of populations that lived in a particular country or geographical regions to which the country belongs, at the time of colonization or conquest and who irrespective of their legal status retain some or all of their own cultural, social and political institutions (Emery and Associates, 1997). While most literature on the traditional ecological knowledge focused on North American indigenous people, there are also indigenous societies in Australia, South America, Asia and Africa, each with its own version of traditional ecological knowledge.
What is traditional ecological knowledge? Traditional ecological knowledge as defined by Fikret Berkes is the knowledge...