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Aligning environmental management with ecosystem resilience: a First Foods example from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Oregon, USA

Eric J. Quaempts, Department of Natural Resources of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Mission, OR
Krista L. Jones, USGS Oregon Water Science Center, Portland, OR
Scott J. O'Daniel, Department of Natural Resources of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Mission, OR
Timothy J. Beechie, Fish Ecology Division, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, WA
Geoffrey C. Poole, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT; Institute on Ecosystems, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT


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The concept of “reciprocity” between humans and other biota arises from the creation belief of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR). The concept acknowledges a moral and practical obligation for humans and biota to care for and sustain one another, and arises from human gratitude and reverence for the contributions and sacrifices made by other biota to sustain human kind. Reciprocity has become a powerful organizing principle for the CTUIR Department of Natural Resources, fostering continuity across the actions and policies of environmental management programs at the CTUIR. Moreover, reciprocity is the foundation of the CTUIR “First Foods” management approach. We describe the cultural significance of First Foods, the First Foods management approach, a resulting management vision for resilient and functional river ecosystems, and subsequent shifts in management goals and planning among tribal environmental staff during the first decade of managing for First Foods. In presenting this management approach, we highlight how reciprocity has helped align human values and management goals with ecosystem resilience, yielding management decisions that benefit individuals and communities, indigenous and nonindigenous, as well as human and nonhuman. We further describe the broader applicability of reciprocity-based approaches to natural resource management.

Key words

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; ecosystem resilience; First Foods; reciprocity; resilient rivers; tribal environmental management

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087