RESTORING SAOKIO WITH BLACKFOOT ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGECategory: 2020, Current, Grant, Land Use, Major Project
With increasing disturbance and loss of native prairie in Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot territory), this project is critical to the well-being of the Niitsitapi (Kainai community) in relation to native grassland ecosystem health where traditional and ecological keystone species are negatively impacted or lost. The Restoring Saokio with Blackfoot Ecological Knowledge project will complement western scientific data through gathering and sharing of traditional Prairie Ecological Knowledge and increase Blood Tribe capacity to restore native grassland ecosystems.
This project addresses the environmental issues that threaten Kainai endangered grassland ecosystems or Saokio and provide a means to mitigate climate change effects such as creating a sustainable system for harvesting traditional plant species. Blackfoot prairie grassland ecosystems are ecologically and culturally significant spaces where important relationships occur and are renewed with cultural practices of reciprocity and ceremony. Grassland degradation and loss is rapidly occurring on the Blood Reservation due to threats from invasive plants, agricultural development, oil and gas development, and a colonized-style land management regime that excluded fire and bison. Our project aims to lead by example through continuance of pilot projects that build community momentum to participate in grassland conservation, stewardship, and restoration. The project aims to build capacity for environment protection staff and Kainai Ecosystem Protection Association (KEPA) members to establish a community seed bank, prescribed burning, and prairie biophysical surveys for restoring native/traditional and bison habitat. education and awareness sessions, development of online materials, and field activities (training, data collection, etc.) will be held with youth and elder focus to strengthen connections to our Blackfoot way of life. Voluntary action will be encouraged through distribution of prairie stewardship activities and best management practices to community, industry, etc. Applied research will support land management decisions and planning in native grassland areas.