Human Ecology

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 507–520

Practical Environmentalism on the Pine Ridge Reservation: Confronting Structural Constraints to Indigenous Stewardship

  • Kathleen Pickering Sherman
  • James Van Lanen
  • Richard T. Sherman

DOI: 10.1007/s10745-010-9336-0

Cite this article as:
Pickering Sherman, K., Van Lanen, J. & Sherman, R.T. Hum Ecol (2010) 38: 507. doi:10.1007/s10745-010-9336-0


Parallels exist between the academic theory of a dwelling approach to resilience and the Indigenous Stewardship Model developed on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. In both approaches, sustainable resource management depends on a practical environmentalism that creates linkages between local community members and their surrounding ecosystem. Research on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation reveals that Lakota people possess a conservation ethic that stems from their physical connection to place. However, tribal, state, and federal land policies create structural barriers that reduce access of Lakota households to the land, which in turn reduces adaptability and resilience in their ecological practice. To overcome these barriers, Lakota households envision local stewardship of reservation lands and resources. Particular emphasis is placed on the intergenerational transfer of knowledge to Lakota youth, to transcend local and political conflict, and to reestablish social and cultural relationships with the reservation’s ecology.


Resilience Indigenous knowledge Community-based natural resource management Political ecology Native Americans Stewardship 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen Pickering Sherman
    • 1
  • James Van Lanen
    • 2
  • Richard T. Sherman
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Alaska Department of Fish and GameFairbanksUSA
  3. 3.Oglala Lakota TribeFort CollinsUSA

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