Traditional Ecological Knowledge


tekThe terms ‘Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK),’ ‘traditional knowledge,’ and ‘indigenous knowledge’ are often used interchangeably. Defined in many ways, they reflect concepts that have no singular, universal description. Traditional knowledge can be expressed in various ways but most often is transmitted interpersonally by individuals entrusted with its care through languages, stories, songs.


Both TEK and ‘scientific ecological knowledge (SEK) play a critical role in GLIFWC’s work protecting treaty resources in the Ceded Territories. In the Climate Change Program, we strive to integrate each knowledge form in a way that is complementary and supportive of the other. Both systems of knowledge provide the foundation for our work in assessing climate change impacts in the Ceded Territories and how GLIFWC can best adapt to them.


TEK gathering is ongoing in the Climate Change Program. Melonee Montano is GLIFWC’s TEK Outreach Specialist. Melonee’s work focuses on interviewing tribal harvesters and knowledge holders, listening to their stories and observations of the natural world and how climate change may be affecting treaty resources. Melonee has interviewed tribal elders and harvesters throughout the Ceded Territories, and more interviews are planned in the near future. GLIWFC has been transcribing and summarizing the interviews and comparing the observations with the western-science based results of the vulnerability assessment. The interviews are also providing GLIWFC with insights and observations not captured through the standard techniques of scientific ecological knowledge gathering. Increasing and decreasing trends in particular beings/species populations are becoming more apparent as additional interviews occur. From the interviews so far, the most commonly mentioned species are white tailed deer, paper birch, northern white cedar, wild rice, and various berries, with interviewees noting paper birch as having the biggest decrease.


GLIFWC TEK Interview Guidelines

To read more about Traditional Ecological Knowledge and how GLIFWC is utilizing it in the Climate Change Program, go to Mazina’igan, GLIFWC’s quarterly newspaper:


“Climate change division gets a dose of TEK”


“Resources like waaboozoog, snow sheds light on climate trends”

“Wiigwaasi-mitig: The uncertain future of a resource”

“Traditional Ecological Knowledge: A foundation for GLIFWC’s Climate Change Program”