Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge — Intergenerational Land Stewardship

Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) is the knowledge base acquired by indigenous and local peoples and passed down from generation to generation, through the changes of ecosystems over hundreds or thousands of years, to the present day.

ITEK thus provides a unique and valuable perspective on a central question of ecological restoration: what were local ecosystems like before the disturbances of the modern era?

ITEK has been developed through direct contact with the environment, learning to adapt through interactions, observations, and experiences. It includes an intimate and detailed knowledge of plants, animals, and natural phenomena. It results in the development and use of appropriate technologies for hunting, fishing, trapping, agriculture, forestry, and all aspects of living in a particular place. These technologies are united by a holistic knowledge or “world view” that parallels the all-inclusive, interconnected orientation of the scientific discipline of ecology. ITEK encompasses countless local and traditional practices for land stewardship, including practices that accomplish succession management, resource rotation, response to variations, and associated social practices to reinforce and adapt interactions with the environment.

In recognition of its valuable contribution to conservation, resource management, and sustainable use of resources, ITEK has been increasingly sought out and relied upon. In the 1980s the term TEK came into widespread use. In the 2020s, the term became ITEK. The knowledge is used widely in many applications, including in all of Lomakatsi’s tribally led restoration projects and in our development of other stewardship and education initiatives.

Dennis Martinez (Oodham/Chicano) founder of the Indigenous People’s Restoration Network, presenting “Creating A Sustainable Ecological Culture” workshop at White Oak Farm & Education Center in Williams, Oregon.

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