Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Sustainability

Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Sustainability is a STEM focused area that concentrates on environmental science, restoration ecology, environmental sustainability, ethnobotany and botany, and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK).

"We live in a time," writes Hawaiian scholar Noenoe Silva, "when many Indigenous peoples around the world are claiming our ancestors' languages, philosophies, and ways of life as worthy of our deepest attention. We are seeing anew how our connections to those ancestors and their/our lands provide bases... for the resurgence of Indigenous ways of life."

The Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Sustainability focus area advisor will work with students to select course work within Environmental Studies and other programs across campus to learn how Indigenous peoples are moving toward revitalizing their communities, restoring Native landscapes, returning to traditional food systems, reestablishing long held sustainable practices and strengthening traditional ecological knowledge.

Outside of the classroom, there are opportunities -- for internships, volunteering, attending guest lectures, and joining student groups.

Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Sustainability Opportunities

Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Sustainability Certificate

Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Sustainability Certificate is a new 12 credit certificate within Environmental Studies. There are two (2) required courses that provide an in-class experience and a hands-on experience: ENST 410 Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and ENSC 396 Supervised Internship: Native Plant Stewardship and Ethnobotany (or ENSC 398 Internship). And then students, along with the mentor, will select two elective 400 level ENSC (Environment Science) or ENST (Environmental Studies) courses with a focus on Indigenous Knowledge and Environmental Sustainability.

Ethnobotany Garden

The Ethnobotany Garden surrounding the University of Montana's Payne Family Native American Center provides an opportunity for public education and a living laboratory for students. Fittingly, it sits on the site of a historic Salish Indian encampment, and the building is designed to reflect that legacy as well as the heritage and cultures of all Montana tribes. The Ethnobotany Garden contains native grasses and bushes connecting eight stone circles which include Native plants important to the twelve tribes of Montana and Rocky Mountain area.

Natural Areas at UM

The University of Montana has hundreds of acres of natural areas available for research, education and recreation - all within historic Salish territory. This includes 500 acres on the face of the iconic Mount Sentinel, and 100 acres on the banks of the Bitterroot River at Fort Missoula. These places are managed with the help of student interns primarily for conservation and restoration of Native plants.

woman working in native plants gardens


Rosalyn *La Pier Associate Professor

Office: Jeannette Rankin Hall 017 (closed)