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Indigenizing Conservation in a Changing Climate: Developing a Community Comprehensive Plan of Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center’s Future Land Use
Abstract: Scientists continue to make conservation decisions that impact indigenous people’s rights to traditional foods, medicine, and cultural land use. In order to change this oppressive top-down approach, indigenous scientists need to utilize their scientific work to advocate for food, climate, and environmental justice. In collaboration with Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, this project aims to do this by creating a community comprehensive plan of the future land use of the twenty acres designated to the center that incorporates an indigenous lens. This project will indigenize conservation in a changing climate by centering indigenous voices, experiences, and principles through community-based participatory research practices. The comprehensive plan aims to decolonize the landscape by acknowledging the indigenous lands Discovery Park occupies. Our main research question is: how can indigenous cultures strengthen the conservation of Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center’s twenty acres of land located at Discovery Park in a changing climate? We will dive into the role food sovereignty and conservation play in indigenous peoples’ lives in the Seattle Metropolitan Area—in particular those who frequent and utilize Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center for cultural traditions, practices, and gatherings. This comprehensive plan will incorporate both indigenous and western sciences to highlight the importance of the inclusion of indigenous peoples and their rights to traditional foods, medicine, and cultural land use of Seattle parks.
The soil, vegetation, water, and wildlife that currently coexists with Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center will be scientifically analyzed to further understand how the landscape has been impacted by climate change and post-colonialism. Through a permaculture design approach, we will demonstrate the most sustainable design to implement on the twenty acres for the future generations and resilience of the landscape. Our main objective is to amplify the voices and traditional ecological knowledge of indigenous peoples in the Seattle Metropolitan area to decolonize current conservation practices and approaches in the area—focusing strongly on the connection indigenous peoples have built with the twenty-acres of land. Visual methodologies such as photo voice, digital storytelling, mapping, and podcasts will be utilized as to do so as well as convenience sampling methods that include surveys and semi-structured interviews. First phase of the project will focus on the scientific analyses and history of the twenty acres of land and the second phase will focus on the indigenous communities—whose traditional practices were the best conservation tools that have been ignored and oppressed or often times co-opted by western scientists. We will utilize an environmental, climate, and food justice lens to advocate for the inclusion of indigenous principles, perspectives, and experiences in conservation efforts and plans already implemented in Discovery Park.