Here’s an interview with Hualapai tribes representatives from Julie Kelso and Utah Public Radio. Click through for the whole program. Here’s an excerpt:
Hualapai and surrounding tribes have inhabited the Grand Canyon region since 700 AD. They survived harsh desert conditions using their knowledge of plants and wildlife behavior, for example using their understanding of the seasonal movements of antelope, sheep and deer to procure food.
Today Hualapai continue to practice sacred ceremonies and collect cultural resources within the canyon. But dams and other development have altered the riparian plant community which now includes many invasive species.
Ka-Voka Jackson, a member of the Hualapai tribe and graduate student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is currently researching methods to remove invasive plants while reestablishing native plants that are culturally important
“To me the Colorado River is really sacred and held really close in my heart because on my reservation we grew up along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon,” she said. “And so being able to work in Glen Canyon National Recreation area is a really important because I am closer to home and our ancestral lands did extend as far as Glen Canyon, so we have ties to that area.”
Tribe and federal agencies have collaborated for decades to manage natural and cultural resources within the Canyon, but cultural and institutional barriers can be much harder to cross than borders drawn on a map.
Ka-Voka and others realized that the perspectives and goals of traditional western scientists often differ from those with local and historical knowledge.
“I think there is a big gap between the traditional ecological knowledge that tribes hold versus the western science, and they don’t communicate,” she said. “There is a gap in that communication but I think they could hugely benefit each other. The tribes have been living here a very long time, so they have a lot of knowledge and it’s often not brought into the science world. There are a lot of reasons for that. A lot of people who hold this traditional knowledge don’t necessarily want to give it to the western scientists because they don’t want it to be exploited, it can be sold as a product, or they don’t want it used out of context. We hold a lot of this knowledge very close. I don’t want to pressure these knowledge holders to give up their knowledge, but I do want them to carefully use it in a way that can benefit everybody.”