Ecological Restoration with Tribes: Assessing Best Practices and Reflective Learning 

Nicholas Chischilly1*, Corrine Knapp2, Tom Grant III3, Wes Martel4, and Melanie Armstrong5 

1University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States 
2Univeristy of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States 
3Univeristy of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States 
4Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Fort Washakie, WY, United States 
5University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States 

This study investigates collaborative practices in ecological restoration, focusing on partnerships between non-native restoration practitioners and tribal nations in the face of climate change. Driving research questions include, “what are the best practices for ecological restoration on tribal lands?” and “how does partnership with tribal entities shift the worldviews of non-native restoration practitioners?”. We utilize open-ended semi-structured interviews with 15-25 non-native restoration practitioners in the southwest United States (UT, AZ, NM, CA, NV, and CO). We plan to transcribe and code interviews to understand best practices, applied philosophies, and experiences in working closely with tribal nations. Participants benefit by contributing to crucial discussions on tribal-non-tribal relations and natural resource concerns, reflecting on their careers, providing advice, and contributing to research findings. Preliminary results include tailored communication approaches, fundamental cultural acknowledgement and integration, significant community integration, and testing western approaches to ecological restoration. Preliminary results suggest that there is variation but some commonality amongst best practices. Common best practices include: coordinating natural and social science frameworks, adapting methods to adhere to tribal contexts, and giving back. In addition, non-native restoration practitioners are impacted differently by interaction with tribal partners, which may be connected to the duration and quality of interactions. For those who express shifts in worldview, common things that are described are a more holistic understanding of the natural world, and a profound appreciation for the resiliency of Indigenous Peoples, and their core identity with landscapes. We hope that this project will help to inform restoration practitioners to consider best practices for conducting ecological restoration with tribes and provide a window into how such engagements might influence worldviews, and through them restoration practice.