Te Mauri - Pimatisiwin

Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the Lake Superior Region: Explorations to Engage Students in Culture, Scientific Inquiry, and Wellness Activities

 

 

 

Abstract

Recognizing the accumulated knowledge and understanding of Ojibwa people about the natural history of the plants and animals in the Lake Supe-rior region, this project engaged students in explorations that focused on the relationship of human beings to the natural world in both an ecological and spiritual sense. Students explored predator/prey relationships, habitat quality, and traditional ecological knowledge of Elders regarding animals in the Lake Superior region often revealed through stories, legends, and gikinawaabi — the Ojibwa word for learning by observation. Research scientists, wildlife biologists, Ojibwa community members, and mentors from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) joined efforts to present this project at the Keweenaw Bay Summer Science Camp. Students also learned about traditional uses of and respect for moose and deer when hunted, including hide for clothing, bones for tools, and venison as a healthy alternative to modern processed foods. Additional goals of the project were to improve lifestyle choices including increased physical activity and healthier food and beverage choices leading to prevention of diabetes and its complications. This project was an interdisciplinary, standards-based, multicultural approach to engage students in using traditional ecological knowledge to discover the interrelatedness of all organisms in their ecosystem, to investigate how all animals need to make wise food and energy choices to stay healthy, and to explore cultural wisdom and career opportunities in science and health professions.

 

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