Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Sustainability

Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Sustainability is a STEM focus area that concentrates on Indigenous knowledge, environmental sustainability, restoration ecology, environmental science, ethnobotany and botany, food systems 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.

There are opportunities for both inside classroom skills building & outside classroom knowledge creation. There are also extracurricular opportunities to attend guest lectures with elders & Indigenous leaders, and join 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 & a hands-on experience, and two (2) elective courses (selected with advise of mentor) that focus on Indigenous Knowledge and Environmental Sustainability.

  • Two (2) required courses: ENST 410 Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples & ENSC 396 Supervised Internship: Native Plant Stewardship and Ethnobotany (or ENSC 398 Internship).
  • Two (2) elective courses: Select two (2) 400 level ENSC (Environment Science) or ENST (Environmental Studies) courses, with advise of mentor.
Our Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Sustainability Certificate is currently not available for distance learning.  

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 traditional Salish lands, and the Ethnobotany Garden contains eight stone circles which include Native plants important to the twelve tribes of Montana.

Natural Areas

The University of Montana has hundreds of acres of natural areas available for research, education and recreation - all within traditional Salish lands. 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.

Indigenous Knowledge Faculty Mentor

Rosalyn LaPier serves as the faculty mentor for the Indigenous Knowledge & Environmental Sustainablity certificate & focus area. She is an award winning Indigenous writer, ethnobotanist and environmental activist with a BA in physics and a PhD in environmental history. Dr. LaPier is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana and Métis. Hear her story on SACNAS Interviews STEM Role Model. 

Rosalyn is on sabbatical from May 10, 2020-August 22, 2021. She is accepting new graduate students for 2021, please feel free to contact her.


Rosalyn La Pier Associate Professor

Office: Jeannette Rankin Hall 017 (closed)