Protecting fragile Manoomin habitats requires an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach between Native and non-Native researchers, resource managers, community members, and Indigenous knowledge keepers. This is what our project brings together. We prioritize collaboration–bringing together all of our partners twice annually (virtually if necessary) to build relationships, determine the direction of the project, organize field work, discuss research results, and disseminate our findings. We also hold monthly conference calls to ensure all partners have a voice in the project.
We jointly collect biophysical data in the field including analyses of vegetation, hydrology, geochemistry, sediments, and regional assessments to contextualize findings. We strive to learn from one another while “walking the land” together. This is a critical step to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into research.
We also collect social science data including oral histories, in-depth interviews, wild rice harvester surveys, and focus groups with tribal and non-tribal natural resource managers to understand the influence of values, policies, and practices on Manoomin ecosystems over time. In all project components, partners work side-by-side to compose research questions, design research plans, co-analyze data and understand how changes in Manoomin health influences relational systems among Native and non-Native knowledge holders, harvesters, and natural resource policy makers.
Finally we aim to integrate social and environmental components of our work to better integrate and interpret our data and support Manoomin, as well as to evaluate and continuously improve the process of collaborative research.