“Western and Indigenous approaches to science need each other to be a whole knowledge system.” Photo by Alyssa Bardy
First Nations, Tribal and Métis governments should be active and equal partners to the US and Canada in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement review process, according to the 2023 International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Third Assessment of Progress (TAP) report on Great Lakes Water Quality which was released on November 9. It summarized three major recommendations for achieving a healthier future for the Great Lakes.
Indigenous Peoples of the Great Lakes have shared a strong kinship with the waters since time immemorial. The many spoken languages among the many peoples were shaped by the same elements that created the escarpments and basins of the region over millennia.
The IJC report recommends the US and Canadian federal governments work with the Nations and Tribes to develop a basinwide climate resiliency goal and to continue to incorporate Traditional Ecological Knowledge into their 10-year Great Lakes science plan. The TAP report also recognizes the importance of the continued incorporation of cultural perspectives in addressing water quality issues within the Great Lakes.
“Knowledge is powerful only if it’s shared, and in my experience Western and Indigenous approaches to science need each other to be a whole knowledge system,” says IJC Commissioner Henry Lickers, of Seneca Nation, Turtle Clan. “By continuing to empower and include Indigenous Peoples in the shaping and implementation of the Agreement over its next 50 years, we all stand to benefit.”