PerspectiveBridge: Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge

“Two-eyed seeing” supports wildlife health

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Science  21 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6446, pp. 1135-1137
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau6170

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The cry “Don't shoot the leaders!” is central to the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples across the Canadian North. For countless generations, northern Indigenous peoples have witnessed the annual caribou migrations, understanding their mechanisms and patterns. They know that if the caribou leading the migration are removed, the rest of the herd do not know where to migrate and will not return to the traditional harvesting grounds. A recent scientific study on the migratory behavior of hoofed animals also concludes that they learn from their conspecifics where and when to migrate (1). Experiential-based knowledge such as that of the northern Indigenous peoples, acquired through practice and over generations, has been central to human adaptation and survival for millennia. Combining this knowledge with scientific knowledge will help to achieve better-informed and more timely and effective decision-making on wildlife health and conservation.