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Indigenous Environmental Practices

  • By: Sonja K. Pieck
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Indigenous environmental practices can be thought of as a combination of behaviors, knowledge, and beliefs. In other words, indigenous practices are embedded in a larger sociocultural context that includes both the social institutions that regulate and convey knowledge and larger cosmologies. The concept of indigenous environmental practices is itself a nonindigenous construct, arising out of Western interest in those practices. There have been positive and negative consequences of outside recognition of these practices.

Indigenous environmental practices tend to be highly diverse and adapted to local conditions. Transmission can occur through storytelling, taboos, rituals, and underlying values such as respect, humility, and reciprocity. Elders and healers are often charged with the role of maintaining and conveying knowledge. Examples of such practices include the following:

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