Story Collection: Indigenous Conservation

It was just in February when our panel of Indigenous historians and leaders led a thought-provoking discussion in Vancouver about conservation practices along the Columbia River. Yet the themes and lessons are timeless and remain relevant as we work toward a more inclusive understanding of the land we share.

The Story Collection below includes a two-part podcast from that Story Gathering, along with a selection of writings and interviews around the notion that our ecology is inextricably linked to our history and our future together.

Prompting Questions:

Teachers: How can my lesson plans reflect Indigenous science and land management?

How do Native conservation practices help us better understand the history of our landscape?

What does the concept of “wilderness” say about our understanding of nature?


Watch and Listen

Confluence Podcast: Vancouver Story Gathering
In this podcast, Mike Iyall, Cowlitz Tribe Council member and Historian, Sam Robinson, Vice-Chair of the Chinook Indian Nation, and David Lewis, Historian and Grand Ronde member discuss Native land management and Indigenous knowledge.

Confluence Podcast: Vancouver Story Gathering Part 2
In this podcast, Mike Iyall, Sam Robinson, and David Lewis talk about the importance of salmon to the entire ecosystem.

Wilbur Slockish: Teach Non-Natives to ‘Reconnect to the Land’
Wilbur Slockish (Klickitat, Yakama) talks about a conversation he had in prison that reshaped the way he looked at cultural relations.

Confluence Podcast: David Lewis
In this episode, anthropologist and Grand Ronde historian David Lewis, discusses the loss of land, tribe-settler interactions, the historical context of Grand Ronde’s treaty negotiation, and protecting rights that weren’t guaranteed in treaties.

Mike Iyall: Born with a “Beautiful Appreciation” of Environment
Mike Iyall talks about what being Cowlitz means to him.

Tanna Engdahl: “We Were Excellent Land Managers”
Tanna Enghdal (Cowlitz) speaks about tribal land management.

Stories from the River: Indigenous Conservation
In this installment of Stories from the River shorts, Wilbur Slockish explains Indigenous methods of conservation.


Gregory Cajete. “On Science, Culture, and Curriculum: Enhancing Native American Participation in Science-Related Fields.” The Tribal College journal.
The application of appropriate forms of Native science, culturally responsive education, and creative strategizing in the teaching and learning of science enhances the participation of Native American students.

Northwest Landscape Dramatically Reshaped by ‘Impatient’ Economics
As the Northwest was increasingly colonized, resource extraction and utilization became the region’s economic backbone. Hydroelectric power, lumber mills, and agriculture thrived while damaging Native ways of life.

Important Food: Wapato
Wapato is a wetland tuber which was a part of Native diet. Though consumption of wapato ceased after land cultivation by white farmers, wapato is being reintroduced to Tribal diets.