Assessing and Improving Lakota Land-User Social-Ecological Interactions and Impacts on Sustainability

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2023: $249,768.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2026
Grant Recipient: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, School of Natural Resources
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Francisco Munoz-Arriola
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, School of Natural Resources


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

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.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.