The North Central Region (NCR) is a grassland agroecosystem shaped by interconnected social and ecological processes or relationships. NCR sustainability has suffered because production has been prioritized over other social-ecological relationships, and Indigenous people face barriers in developing Indigenous social-ecological relationships. The quality of ecological relationships is intricately connected with the quality of social relationships and societal processes. Global research shows that Indigenous social-ecological relationships are essential for the sustainability of agroecosystems. Indigenous social-ecological relationships are ancestral interconnections between Indigenous people with agroecosystems in the pursuit of sustainability. This project will work with Lakota land-users in the NCR to assess and improve their social-ecological relationships and their impacts on sustainability through interviews, group discussions, educational programming, management-assessment research, and outreach reporting. We will explore how land-users understand, interact with, and conserve Indigenous social-ecological relationships through interviews. We will assess how they understand how social processes impact these interactions and how land-users would like societal processes to change to improve agroecosystem sustainability. Group discussions will complement the interviews to highlight how their social-ecological relationships interact with societal processes across spatial and temporal scales. The products of these activities will be used to develop Indigenous education programming with land-users to support them in connecting with ancestral social-ecological practices. We will then work with land-users to adapt Indigenous practices to their current needs, to adapt Indigenous social-ecological assessments, and to inform them jointly with Western science. The project stages' results will be employed to co-develop outreach reports focused on the barriers, priorities, and recommendations of Lakota land-users for sustainable agroecosystems. They will be shared with cross-sector Indigenous and Western communities to support Lakota perspectives, equitable solutions, research, management, and education.
Project objectives from proposal:
- To assess how Lakota land-users interact with social-ecological relationships and societal processes in the NCR grasslands to reveal their impacts on, barriers for, and priorities for sustainable agroecosystems.
- To co-develop and facilitate culturally sensitive educational programming for Lakota land-users focused on practicing Indigenous social-ecological practices for advancing sustainable agroecosystems.
- To adapt Indigenous social-ecological relationships and assessments of their impacts on sustainable agroecosystems.
- To create reports on the social-ecological barriers and priorities of Lakota land-users for informing equitable grassland solutions and for guiding BNGA strategy.