The Shoshone-Paiute Tribe of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation
Environmental Education Program
Owyhee Combined School, Duck Valley Reservation, Idaho/Nevada, USA
In 2021, we launched collaborative environmental education program with the Duck Valley Owyhee Combined School, the Shoshone-Paiute (Sho-Pai) Tribal Environmental Protection Program (TEPP), and the North American Native Research and Education Foundation (NANREF). The Sho-Pai face enormous environmental challenges, including upstream contamination by an abandoned copper mine, declining water tables, total loss of anadromous fish resources, and pronounced geographical isolation. With our partners, we are supporting the development of a holistic educational program that blends traditional ecological knowledge and western science to understand the impacts of dams, climate change, and water quality on environmental and human health.
In July, 2021, we piloted our first field event. Students from the Duck Valley school joined TIFO, NANREF, TEPP, and other Sho-Pai members to do water quality testing and relocation of "problem" beavers from irrigation canals. These activities enabled students to engage in learning about how their local environment impacts and is impacted by broader environmental issues.
Like many Native tribes, the Sho-Pai face disproportionate burdens related to mining, fisheries collapse, and lack of representation of Native students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. This program aims to increase Sho-Pai students' environmental science competency, increase the number of students pursuing environmental science/STEM higher education and jobs, and to improve the riparian ecosystem on the reservation. Students will engage in classroom workshops, field trips, field activities, scientific conferences, and community presentations. These events will blend traditional ecological knowledge and western science, encouraging students to consider the components of riparian health as part of the overall ecosystem function to benefit wildlife and humans. Through engagement in this program, students will be better prepared to understand and address local environmental challenges related to mining, water quality issues, impacted salmon and beaver populations, riparian ecosystem function, and climate change.
The program is an opportunity to build the foundation for future collaborations to assess and mitigate environmental degradation issues, including mining pressures and climate change impacts, faced by the Sho-Pai Tribe.