Local Cultural Knowledge and Water Resource Management: The Wind River Indian Reservation
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Ecology and culture comprise interacting components of landscapes. Understanding the integrative nature of the landscape is essential to establish methods for sustainable management. This research takes as a unifying theme the idea that ecological and cultural issues can be incorporated through management. As a first step in developing integrative management strategies, information must be collected that compares and contrasts ecological and cultural issues to identify their areas of intersection. Specifically how can local cultural knowledge enable water resource management that reflects cultural and ecological values? This research examines Native American cultural knowledge for setting water resource management priorities in the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming. A cross-cultural approach is adopted to assess the relationship between indigenous cultural knowledge and Euro-American perspectives through a comparative examination of the Wind River Water Code and Wyoming Water Law. This research indicates that cultural perspectives provide a rich arena in which to examine management issues. Understanding and identifying cultural practices may be an important first step in collaborative resource management between different cultural groups to prevent conflict and lengthy resolution in court.