[PAST EVENT] Webinar: Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Hydropower Reform

February 22, 2023
4pm - 5:30pm
Virtual, Via Zoom
Access & Features
  • Open to the public
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Native American fishery at Celilo Falls (c. 1956), Columbia River. Image: US Army Corps of Engineers
Native American fishery at Celilo Falls (c. 1956), Columbia River. Image: US Army Corps of Engineers

The Institute for Integrative Conservation, in collaboration with the W&M Harrison Ruffin Tyler Department of History and the Hydropower Reform Coalition, presents:

"Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Hydropower Reform"

Part of the IIC 2022-23 Conservation Speaker Series: Re-Imagining Protected Area Conservation

Conceptions of nature as separate from or in service to humans have influenced the designation, establishment and management of protected areas in the United States, including National Parks, Wilderness Areas, and rivers across the country. Some protected area designations have resulted in removal of Indigenous peoples or restrictions placed upon their access to place and resources. The licensing and management of hydropower projects across the country have also been influenced by these perspectives. The hydropower licensing process includes Tribal consultation, but separates cultural resource issues from environmental issues and is not designed to recognize the interconnectedness of culture and environment.

Innovative co-management models for some hydropower projects and protected area management plans prioritize Tribal concerns and perspectives, providing lessons for more just and sustainable decision-making.

In this panel, we will hear from riparian and fisheries experts representing U.S. tribes on:

1. How Indigenous understandings of land ownership, relationships, and conservation interact and conflict with the concept of humans as separate from nature

2. How traditional knowledge can be better incorporated into riparian conservation and hydropower decision-making

3. What approaches have worked to resolve, address, or mitigate the non-inclusive approaches to land and resource management, particularly related to hydropower


Jeremy Takala, Yakama Nation Tribal Council, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation

Jeremy Takala, known as Pax’anashat in the Yakama Nation hails from the Kahmiltpah Band (Rock Creek) located on the Columbia River. He is also a proud descendant of Hopi. He was nominated in 2020 to serve as a Tribal Councilman for Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. He currently chairs the Fish and Wildlife, Law and Order, and Legislative Committees. Prior to his time in office he worked twelve years for the Yakima Klickitat Fisheries Project (YKFP) at the Klickitat River Research Monitor Evaluate as a fisheries technician. His hands on training and Washut upbringing has contributed to his skillset as a CRITFC Commissioner with the Nez Perce, Umatilla and Warm Springs Tribes. He is passionate about upholding up his tribes' Treaty Rights with the federal government and protecting resources for those yet unborn. 

Elaine Harvey, Yakama Nation Tribal Member, Ka-miltpah Band

Elaine Harvey is a Yakama tribal member of the Ka-miltpah Band from the Columbia River. Elaine has worked for the past 15 years as a Fisheries Biologist, 1.5 years working as the Hydro Systems Oversight Coordinator, and 4 months as the Environmental Coordinator. Elaine has worked with federal, state, and county managed dam operations to incorporate tribal perspectives on preservation and conservation of cultural and natural resources. She brings traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) to many platforms to educate the public, investors, and politicians the importance of tribal resources and how the tribes need to be involved so they can share their TEK. The tribes can be very resourceful partners as they are permanent residents of their ancestral lands and strive to protect their cultural resources for all future generations of their tribes which will benefit the natural resources since the tribes view no disconnection between the natural and cultural resources. 

Wendy Poppy Ferris-George, MPS-Cultural and Heritage Resource Management Archaeologist; Business Owner: Ferris Institute, World Renewal Non-Profit; Enrolled Hupa, descendant of the Karuk, Chameriko and Yurok Tribes

Poppy is a master level archaeologist, business owner, and a cultural arts teacher. She has taught basketry for more than 30 years and comes from an avid fishing family. She comes from the village of TakimiLdin (mother) on the Hoopa Valley Reservation and the Panamnik village in Orleans, California (father). Poppy became involved in the movement to restore the Klamath and Trinity Rivers in 2002 after a catastrophic fish kill occurred on the Klamath River. She became heavily involved in the “Bring the Salmon Home” campaign and traveled around the world as an activist to restore the Klamath River. She has served as the Vice-Chairwoman, a Councilmember, and the Associate Judge for the Hoopa Tribe. In 2016, She was appointed by the Karuk Tribe as a board member of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC). She works closely with the Karuk Tribal Council and their staff to promote the removal of four dams located along the Klamath River. 

Brett Fessell, Restoration Section Leader and River Ecologist, Natural Resources Department, for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

Over the past 2 ½ decades Brett Fessell has led, supported and helped guide a spectrum of initiatives, projects and muddy groundwork related to natural resources restoration, conservation and advocacy for the Grand Traverse Band. From the trying work of defending tribal treaty rights in federal court to tireless efforts in watershed restoration and conservation, he continually strives to ensure Indigenous conservation perspectives are acknowledged, considered and applied in a meaningful way. Granted through insights and abilities gained in his life and work, he has developed a unique capacity to illustrate unfamiliar, complex, multi-scale processes of ecosystems in ways that help people relate personally to the fundamental values of ecosystem health and service held equally by both human and non-human communities. 


Andy Fisher is an Associate Professor of History at William & Mary and currently directs the Environment & Sustainability Program (ENSP). He received his BA from the University of Oregon and his PhD from Arizona State University. His research and teaching interests focus on modern Native American history, environmental history, and the American West. His first book, Shadow Tribe: The Making of Columbia River Indian Identity (University of Washington Press, 2010), examines off-reservation communities and processes of tribal ethnogenesis in the Columbia Basin. His current project is a biography of the Yakama actor, technical advisor, and activist Nipo Strongheart. 

Colleen McNally-Murphy is Associate National Director of the Hydropower Reform Coalition. She coordinates coalition members and leads outreach, communications, and equity initiatives. She liaises with NGO partners and federal resource agencies, and works closely with the Chairs and Steering Committee on policy advocacy. Colleen joined the HRC in 2019 after an early career in international development. She has a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Lewis and Clark College and a M.A. in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

This event is sponsored by the Institute for Integrative Conservation, the W&M History Department, and the Hydropower Reform Coalition. We thank the W&M Center for Racial and Social Justice, American Indian Resource Center, American Indian Students Association, Native Studies Minor, the Environment and Sustainability Program, Department of History, Department of Anthropology, Reves Center for International Studies, and W&M Libraries for their ongoing collaboration with the IIC and the Conservation Speaker Series.