Self-Determination, Seri-Style

Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies receives a two-year grant from the Christensen Fund

 

“The multi-cultural exchange and indigenous self-determination promoted by this project are especially critical during an era of generational transition. We hope this project will contribute to Seri efforts to manage their territory in the face of today’s environmental and cultural challenges,” said Lorayne Meltzer, Prescott College Environmental Studies faculty and Co-Director of the College’s Kino Bay Center

The Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies has received a two-year grant from the Christensen Fund to increase support for empowering the Seri people of Northwest Mexico to address their goals of education, research, resource management, and self-determination.

The project, capacity-building for multicultural collaboration in research, conservation and education in Seri Territory, Sonora, Mexico, will provide the Seri opportunities to build capacity for effective and self-determined resource management for their territory. The project will empower Seri youth to combine western research and conservation practices with the traditional knowledge of their elders in order to manage and protect their rich natural and cultural heritage.

“The multi-cultural exchange and indigenous self-determination promoted by this project are especially critical during an era of generational transition. We hope this project will contribute to Seri efforts to manage their territory in the face of today’s environmental and cultural challenges,” said Lorayne Meltzer, Prescott College Environmental Studies faculty and Co-Director of the College’s Kino Bay Center. “Our vision and mission overlap nicely with plenty of congruity with the Indigenous and land- based philosophy of Prescott College,” said Dr. Laura Monti of the Christensen Fund.

“At this juncture in the Seri’s history, when youth have more opportunities for education in Mexico, there is a great need for education that values and affirms the long heritage of traditional ecological knowledge that the Seri hold of the Gulf of California and the coastal region.

“Prescott College’s land-based philosophy of education, focus on experiential learning, and particularly its Native American program make the College an ideal partner for the Fund, particularly because the Kino Field Station has already fostered long term meaningful relationships with Seri youth and elders.”

The project will also offer Prescott College students, faculty and other researchers in the region opportunities to learn about Seri traditional knowledge and support Seri efforts to strengthen their Indigenous self-determination.
Support from The Christensen Fund will enable The College’s Kino Bay Center to select a Fellow to work with Seri community members to identify and address their goals in the areas of education, resource management and self-determination. Specific outcomes in the first year include the assessment of existing educational programs, the coordination of training workshops for Seri, and the development of protocols for Mexican and American researchers wishing to work in Seri territory.

The Fellow, together with Prescott College faculty and Kino Bay Center personnel will incorporate support of Seri goals into the Center’s existing programs. This project will enrich the multicultural and multifaceted approach to education, research and conservation, and community empowerment promoted by the Kino Bay Center.

This project connects directly to The Christensen Fund's mission to strengthen relationships between land and people, culture and nature (i.e., biocultural diversity). The project is devoted to connecting research and conservation in the region with Seri traditions, knowledge, and conservation practice. Connecting science and ecology of the region with Seri culture and traditional knowledge of place is a primary focus of this project and central to its success.

The Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies facilitates multi-cultural and collaborative research, conservation and education efforts in the culturally and biologically rich Midriff Island Region of the Gulf of California. The Center’s programs involve individuals of all ages from local, regional, national and international research, academic, government, and community groups and institutions.

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