The Curious Case of the Salish Sea Feet

Nonetheless, traditional ecological knowledge is making its way into more academic settings, starting with the Salish Sea Institute at Western Washington University.  “It doesn’t make sense for us to do any work without considering the historical perspective from the tribes and the current perspective from the tribes,” director Ginny Broadhurst told me. “You can’t really look at one piece of this without looking at the whole.” The institute, still in its infancy, is a new program at the university that combines Western sciences and TEK in a concentration devoted to the health of the Salish Sea. Regarding the inclusion of TEK with Western science, Broadhurst said, “It’s not how do you do it, it’s how could you do it without it? What the Western world has sort of done too much is think that we know everything and don’t need to ask others, and we just proceed and we do that to own detriment with blinders on.” The program is one of the first of its kind, but it is building on a 30-year history of collaboration of First Nations and regional scientists.