Indigenous Models of Sustainability

Indigenous Models of Sustainability

The Whitney R. Harris Ecology Center Conservation Forum with Tiffanie Hardbarger, Ph.D.; Robin Kimmerer, Ph.D.; and Kyle Whyte, Ph.D.

Join Wash U students, faculty, and staff for a live, in-person screening and discussion of the event. 

Each year, the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center organizes and co-sponsors the Whitney and Anna Harris Conservation Forum in partnership with the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Saint Louis Zoo, and the Academy of Science St. Louis. The forum provides an opportunity for interaction between conservation organizations and the general public. The forum hosts 3-4 speakers with a panel discussion following. This event is meant to promote learning, discussion, and new viewpoints.


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Speaker Info

Tiffanie Hardbarger, Ph.D. (Cherokee Nation)
Assistant Professor, Cherokee and Indigenous Studies
Northeastern State University - Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Remembrance: The Roots of Relationship to the Land

In this talk, Dr. Harbarger will share the philosophical roots of the EuroAmerican relationship to land and "sustainability" ethic in the United States using historiography, and how it has shifted in modern times. Examples of specific indigenous models and concepts will be shared as a way to examine how such relationships are remembered from an indigenous viewpoint.


Robin Kimmerer, Ph.D. (Citizen Potawatomi)
SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry - Syracuse, New York

Restoration and Reciprocity: Renewing Relationships with the Land

Sustainability of indigenous cultural landscapes is based on the philosophy and practice of reciprocal relationships between land and people. Conservation of biodiversity remnants alone is insufficient for the urgency of the times. Among the most powerful acts of reciprocity we can undertake, is restoration, healing the damage we have inflicted on land and our more-than-human relatives. However, repairing ecosystem structure and function must be complemented by restoration of reciprocal relationship to land. Synergy between indigenous and scientific knowledges, can guide the process of healing both land and relationship, through biocultural approaches, leading to reciprocal restoration and justice for the land.


Kyle Whyte, Ph.D. (Citizen Potawatomi)
George Willis Pack Professor of Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan

Sustainability is a Matter of Kinship

Kinship traditions of ethics are needed more than ever if there will be progress toward sustainability. They are systematic, and demonstrate how norms of consent, reciprocity, trust, and accountability are entwined with ecological understandings of climate change and biodiversity conservation. Kinship is especially important as sustainable solutions, including renewable energy, turn out to pose threats to Indigenous peoples and other groups globally.

View full Conference schedule here