Tribal and indigenous peoples lived in their lands for a very long time. Over centuries and millennia they developed unique knowledge of their lands, the plants and animals, of seasons and waterways, and of how to manage many of these things. Many native peoples, perhaps most, did not have agriculture ever, while some did. Native peoples lived off what the land gave them, and they celebrated the wealth of their land and worked to help it revive each year. Tribal lands, animals, plants, rocks, waterways all have living spirits that people can talk with and influence with respect and deference.
Some of their innovations helped make their foods more stable, like setting fires to the lands. The lands would regrow every season and perhaps with increased food, because of the fires. The fires, set annually, kept down the threat of catastrophic fire which would have destroyed their people, the land, the animals and plants. The people knew their lands and ways of managing the land and passed their knowledge to the next generations.
Healthy native cultures had no interruption in their chains of wisdom and knowledge about their lands. When colonization came, their annual lifeways were interrupted and people began periods of starvation, dislocation, forced removal and cultural change. In the times changes came, some adapted to new ways, while others died of new diseases or the stresses of a changed lifeway. Many of us are the descendants of the remnants of the tribes. We are the survivors of a massive catastrophic event that has radically altered our lands, peoples, and cultures. When tribes were forced to sign treaties, vacate their lands, they stopped many of the land management techniques. They also stopped, or were forced to stop hunting, fishing and gathering in their traditional ways.
Tribes and native peoples have largely survived colonization, and our culture is coming back. Our tribal TEK contains wisdom that can help the people now here to live better with the land their occupy. This new age of revival of tribal traditions is a chance for us all to begin restoring the traditional culture and our many relationships with the land, the animals and plants that share this place with us. Some of our knowledge can even help the colonial culture to live better with the land.
Below are a few essays about tribal TEK on the blog