For many indigenous peoples whose food, shelter, and other means of survival has always come from the environment around them, knowing what is healthy matters, not as a technical exercise, but because it constitutes survival.
As noted by scholars in other regions, “People living directly from the land and water around them are acutely aware of indications that things are right or wrong with the natural world” (Usher et al. In the Denesołine (Chipewyan) community of Lutsël K’e, for example, elders distinguish between these two kinds of environmental changes; “edo” translates as “it changes” and “edo aja” translates as “something has happened to it” (Parlee et al. Where resource development activity has been relatively recent, land users may have an easier time unraveling the differences between edo and edo aja.
Drawing on the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of the Lesser Slave Lake Cree, this paper shares understanding of how resource development has affected water, fish, forests, and wildlife as well as the well-being of Cree communities in the Lesser Slave Lake region of Alberta, Canada.
In addition to descriptive observations of change, the narratives point to social-ecological thresholds or tipping points in the relationship of Cree harvesters to local lands and resources.
There are other kinds of knowledge gaps that science alone cannot fill.