Human Ecology

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 777–784 | Cite as

Traditional Lifeways and Storytelling: Tools for Adaptation and Resilience to Ecosystem Change

  • John J. DaigleEmail author
  • Natalie Michelle
  • Darren J. Ranco
  • Marla R. Emery


We collected data through three focus groups conducted with Wabanaki citizens (members of the Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Maliseet, and Micmac Nations) residing in Maine, USA, and the Canadian Maritime region. These sessions used a collective storytelling and discussion approach consistent with Wabanaki cultural practices to explore environmental knowledge, information on environmental change, and its impact on traditional lifeways (TLW) over time. Wild foods such as fiddleheads (Matteucia strutiopteris (L.) Tod.), berries such as blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis & R. Canadensis) and strawberries (Fragaria x ananasa), deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmerman), fish, and seafood provide not only physical nourishment, but also cultural connections through storytelling, harvesting, processing, and sharing of resources. It is this strong and multifaceted dependence on natural resources and systems that makes Wabanaki citizens particularly “vulnerable” to climate change, but also potentially resilient because of stories and other cultural traditions that help process and understand environmental change. We suggest storytelling continues to remain relevant as a way to connect the generations and for continued adaptation to ecosystem change and sustaining traditions.


Indigenous knowledge Knowledge transmission Traditional ecological knowledge Wabanaki Maine, USA Canadian Maritime region 


Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author JD. The data are not publicly available due to them containing information that could compromise research participant privacy/consent.

Funding Information

This research project was funded by the U.S. Forest Service, Award Number 14-JV-11242309-101.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All participants received notification of informed consent prior to the focus group sessions and we followed all other protocols approved by the University of Maine Human Subjects Office.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Forest Resources, College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and AgricultureUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  2. 2.Ecology and Environmental Sciences programUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  4. 4.U.S. Forest ServiceNorthern Research StationBurlingtonUSA

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