Episode 12

February 15, 2024


Understanding Stewardship

Hosted by

International Wildlife Coexistence Network Josh Adler
Understanding Stewardship
For the Wild Ones
Understanding Stewardship

Feb 15 2024 | 00:33:56


Show Notes

Discover how to put coexistence into practice through better wildlife management and decisionmaking.



Douglas Neasloss


Music Credits:

For the Wild Ones Theme by Priya Darshini

All I Need by Milan André Boronell

Illuminatives by Supaman

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] GUEST: We have a very strong belief that if you take care of the land, the land will take care of you. And that's very important. With everything we do, it's not based on an extractive model. And we want sustainability, we want conservation. We want to make sure there's something for the next generation. We want to make sure there's something for the whole ecosystem. In our culture, we say everything is connected. If you remove one thing, it affects everything else. And so trying to look at things in a holistic way is super important. And we want to make sure that that is ingrained in the management. [00:00:27] HOST: That was this episode's guest, Douglas Neeslas, elected chief of the Kittesu and Hei. [00:00:33] HOST: People of British Columbia. [00:00:35] HOST: We'll hear more about his understanding of holistic stewardship models and how to implement them. [00:00:41] HOST: I'm your host, Josh Adler. And this is for the wild ones, brought to you by the International Wildlife Co assistance Network. [00:01:14] HOST: Have you wondered to yourself, is coexistence even possible? Can any of this nature based solutions, restoration, conservation stuff really work? Well, this episode is all about a community of indigenous, local people who got together and decided that they could protect and restore their natural environment, their marine ecosystem, their forests, their coast. And to even their surprise, it has uplifted not only their quality of life, but increased the bonds in their community and their ability to share their rich culture with the rest of the world. I feel so fortunate that Douglas Nisloss, our guest, made time between his meetings with decision makers and experts who all want to know how to do what he and his people are doing to make coexistence a reality. In a word, it's called stewardship. [00:02:37] GUEST: I certainly have a very strong passion for wildlife. I just feel there's not enough people speaking on behalf of wildlife. I also feel that First nations have never had a say in wildlife. We lived with wildlife for thousands of years, and I think we have a lot of knowledge we can share, and we've never had an opportunity for that to be reflected in the management. The tide is changing on that, and we're kind of pushing open some doors to make sure that we can help shape some new policies. [00:03:04] HOST: Can you be specific about where you see the doors opening up or ways that you feel like you're getting to have more of a say now? [00:03:11] GUEST: Maybe to start, when I think about things like the Wildlife act. The Wildlife act was developed in the late 18 hundreds by hunters. For hunters with very little conservation mandate, zero First nations input, I would say the door is opening on the wildlife policy. So the problems. Provincial government over here now had a series of engagement sessions and the new strategy put together for wildlife strategy, which is now incorporating First nations, which is great. Just yesterday I was with coastal First nations and we signed off on a new strong reconciliation 2.0 agreement, where it ties provincial government of First nations in a collaborative way. And so anything that is to be done in our landscape has to come through our table. So we're going to have a say in wildlife management, we're going to have a say in tenures and forestry and a whole bunch of different things. It's the first time such a strong, collaborative government to government relationship, which is great. [00:04:05] HOST: This is in Canada, we should say, for folks. [00:04:08] GUEST: That's right, yes. British Columbia. [00:04:10] HOST: Well, that's good news. Would you say that those opportunities now translates into potentially something closer to a co stewardship model? [00:04:19] GUEST: Yeah, absolutely. So there's a few things going on right now. Number one, incorporating First nations in my right now. And then there's specific strategies like the grizzly bear stewardship framework, which coastal First nations were certainly a part of. And it sounds like they're going to break up the problems into different regions and it'll be up to every region to come up with their own wildlife management. And so just two days ago, we passed a new motion to create a new group on behalf of coastal first nations, which is a new coastal First nations regional wildlife management table. We have a table just dedicated to wildlife, talk about how we can incorporate law, how we can incorporate stronger government to government relationships in terms of how decisions are being made, how science is being incorporated, how we incorporate traditional ecological knowledge and local knowledge. So all of that is going to be quite natural and quite exciting. [00:05:07] HOST: Yeah, that's super exciting. And I hope listeners in the states are taking note. Can you say more about the grizzly act? Our organization is working to add stronger federal protections for grizzlies, bison and wolves coming up in the new year. So we're definitely interested in hearing about what's going on. [00:05:25] GUEST: Yeah, we started our grizzly work back in 2012. We were dealing with a lot of issues of trophy hunters coming to trophy hunt. These bears, actually 85% would come from the US and they would come blast all the bears and chop off their head and take their fur for us. In our culture, that was extremely disrespectful. Not just bears, but all wildlife play an extremely important role. Wildlife are ingrained in our songs and our dances and our stories in our clan systems, when all of our stories we teach our young people to have respect have respect for nature and have respect for people. And so 2012, we issued a ban on trophy hunting. And at that time, the government came out with the same predictable response. They said it was based on sound science, which they did not have any sound science, and we were able to debunk that. They also said it was based on all these protected areas, and they were trying to assume that protected areas protected bears, which none of them protected any grizzly bears or black bears, and you can walk into any protected area and go shoot a bear. And the third one was their economic argument. They said trophy hunting was worth 350,000,000 to the province of British Columbia. And we basically set out to do a deep dive into those numbers. And we found out through that report that the trophy hunt and the resident hunt combined made $1.1 million. There was only four companies in the great bear that hunted bears, and they employed a total of eleven people, compared to the 56 ecotourism operations that employed about 560 people. And that was ecotourism world, was worth about 15.2 million. So 15.2 million compared to the 1.1 and the trophy hunt president Hunt combined, blew their economic numbers out of the water. And that report also said the government actually spends more money managing the hunt than they actually make on the hunt. So they didn't have an economic argument either. So we were able to debunk that. It became the second biggest story in British Columbia that year. A lot of British Columbians were quite upset about it because a lot of people didn't realize that trophy hunting continued to happen right in their backyard. We watched the polls climb from, like, 87% to 91% to 93%. I think the latest numbers are, like, 97 or 98%. So it's quite high that people don't support it. People don't think it should continue to happen. And I thought it was great. [00:07:30] HOST: Congratulations. That's amazing work. Super important to expose how far off those numbers can be from governments or from special interest groups. They're not shy about inflating or misdirecting the numbers that they put out there. [00:07:47] GUEST: Yeah. And even now, some groups are starting to push for the hunt to reopen. And documents like the crazy bear stewardship framework, I think, are opening up the discussion again. [00:07:58] HOST: I want to now kind of back up and dig deeper into your story. So maybe just start with telling me about where you call home. [00:08:06] GUEST: I live in a tiny village on the central coast of British Columbia, right in the heart of the Great Bear rainforest. It's home to the Kirasu and Heikhis people, and, yeah, we're right in the middle. So half our territory is on the mainland and the other half are on the islands. And Kirasu Heiheis people are two very distinct groups that moved together and lived in this small. Yeah, one of the most beautiful places and surrounded by lots of wildlife. [00:08:31] HOST: I was so blown away by the film keepers of the land and how your community is truly immersed in the living world, which doesn't mean that there isn't business or social things happening, right. That it's a place of solitude. It's not. But at the same time, there's just wildlife everywhere. It's there to be experienced. [00:08:56] GUEST: Wildlife are certainly very much a part of the territory and, yeah, it's just everywhere and it's normal. And I think of it the opposite. When I go to places and there's no wildlife, that doesn't feel right, it feels kind of weird. And there's something missing. There's some sort of ingredient that's missing that makes the place wild. I get to sit a big trip down to Yellowstone in the Teton, the Grand Teton Mountains. And on the way there, we saw no wildlife. But once you get to Yellowstone, there's lots of wildlife. And so that was kind of cool. So that's kind of how the great bear rainforest is. There's plenty of wildlife. We have grizzly bears, we have black bears, we have spear bears, we have wolves, and there's a ton of different wildlife. There's humpback whales, killer whales, salmon. It's all normal, it's natural, and we want to find a way to keep it like that. [00:09:39] HOST: Another aspect of the film that really stood out to me was everybody in the film gave their given name, but also hereditary names, which seems like are earned in a way. Maybe you can share a little bit about the importance and meaning within gaining the hereditary name and that process. [00:10:01] GUEST: There's some people that have kind of common names, and there's some people that have hereditary names that are passed down from generation to generation, sometimes to the eldest son or the eldest daughter or to the eldest niece and nephew, depending what nation. Maybe you can think of it kind of like a job title or a responsibility. And so in our culture, you have a stewardship responsibility. That's something we've had for thousands of years. And some of these names that are passed down from generation to generation can be 10,000 years old. And every family has a hereditary chief. They have title to that area. They also have the responsibility to steward that area and to make sure that they're holding it for the next generation. And so that's something that's ingrained in all of our work we do, whether it's in the terrestrial world or whether it's in the marine world. We make sure that that's ingrained in all of our work, and we make sure that's what we implement on the ground. [00:10:49] HOST: You're very focused on the idea of stewardship in your work and your personal mission. Can you share a little bit about what that term means to you as a relationship? [00:11:02] GUEST: I think this means a number of different things. Number one, First nations have been pushed aside for the last 150 years, and there's this resurgence that's going on, and First nations are no longer asking to assert their stewardship responsibility. We're just doing it. And it is our responsibility. It's always been our responsibility. If we left it, I think to the western world, they will continue to take everything, extract everything. And that's our idea of management. We want to be able to implement our values. We have a very strong belief that if you take care of the land, the land will take care of you. And that's very important in everything we do. It's not based on an extractive model. And we want sustainability, we want conservation. We want to make sure there's something for the next generation. We want to make sure there's something for the whole ecosystem. In our culture, we say everything is connected. If you remove one thing, it affects everything else. And so trying to look at things in a holistic way is super important. And we want to make sure that that is ingrained in the management. It's very different when you work with different governments and they're very siloed in their approach. They have one department that just talks about fish, a different one that talks about forestry, a different one that talks about the ocean. And so, yeah, it's kind of weird. And we want to try and bring some holistic management approach to that and implement some of our First nations values and some of those policies. I think stewardship is also about training the next generation to make sure that they understand their stewardship responsibilities and to make sure that they understand that if you wipe it out, you could wipe it out for everyone and everything. [00:12:30] HOST: What are some of the key resources in your community that you've been focused on protecting, and what are the wider implications of working to protect those resources? [00:12:42] GUEST: We set aside quite a bunch. A lot of this started back in the provincial government gave it all these permits to go log out all of our area. At that time, our area was called the North Coast Timber supply area. And it led to a number of protests by First nations, by environmental groups, and basically shut down all the forest companies. And we came to some sort of agreement where we'll set aside about 85% of this region in a protected area. And they called it the Great Bear Rainforest. And in my traditional territory, about 50% of my territory is now locked up in protected area, which is great. It's a lot of benefits for the rest of the world that trees are sequestering carbon and releasing oxygen. That's a benefit to everyone else, but it also is keeping these wild places intact. We want to see more of that. And we've been able to look at developing things like longer term sustainable economies around that as well. So it's not just based on logging. We log it all out and it's done. We're able to focus on building things like ecotourism. We built a tourism company in my community called Spirit Bear Lodge, and it's one of the most successful operations. We get to hire a diversity of people. Men, women, and children are part of that operation. And my people get paid to go be themselves. They get paid to interpret who they are and where they're from and share with other people from all around the world off a bit of their culture. That is really cool. So it was a very different approach to economic development. Plus it met our criteria in terms of being long term and sustainable, and it's a win win for everyone. And then there's a number of other tourism companies that come to our area to come and operate their business, and we like that, and we support them, and that's worked out quite well. [00:14:16] HOST: What would you say now are the biggest challenges to keeping the Kitusu land safe? [00:14:22] GUEST: We protected 85% of the greater rainforest. Now we are doing a lot of work right now on the marine side. We still have very little marine protected areas. My community always makes it clear that we're only halfway there. Protecting land is one thing, but if you want to look at things in a holistic way, then we would need to protect the marine side. We've been working now for a better part of 20 years. We spanned all different levels of government, whether they're completely right or left. And we're getting there, we're getting close, and we hope in the next two years we'll see some large marine protected areas. And we think that'll be a benefit to everyone. Whether you're a commercial fisherman or recreational fishermen or First nations food fishermen. We hope that it'll be a benefit for all the different species, and they can thrive. We have refugee areas. [00:15:05] HOST: The work that you and your community are doing is just so inspiring because it's collaborative, it's proactive. Nobody's saying, you should do this or you should do that. You're totally taking all the initiative, and then you're also providing all these public goods in terms of the outcomes, protected areas and resources, and new opportunities for ecotourism like you're talking about. I'm curious because our organization is focused on a paradigm of coexistence. Is that a notion that plays a role in your work? [00:15:38] GUEST: Absolutely. First, people need to learn how to coexist. And I think that's been one of the challenges of the past, is that I think that's a large reason why we were not able to collaborate. People weren't able to come together. I think about different levels of government, whether you're looking at provincial governments or federal governments or First nations governments. But there's been a paradigm shift in my lifetime. I've started to see people break down some of those barriers and agree to work together, and it's been quite amazing. I'm talking to major, major changes. We are signing agreements together. We're sitting down on the same table talking about collaboration. When you really look at it, we all have the same mandate. It doesn't matter what government you are. We all have the same responsibility, and we all want sustainability and conservation and jobs and all of those things. How to do that, respect the way more people sit at the table? I think the better everyone has. Yeah, I think we're getting to it. [00:16:29] HOST: I'm also wondering, in terms of traditional stories, if there are stories in your culture about human wildlife conflict and how those conflicts maybe were resolved. [00:16:40] GUEST: Almost all of our stories were in some way, shape, or form. Most of these stories are there to teach us a lesson. We get some sort of laws from them. Our values stem from those stories. And so, yeah, they're meant to teach us things, whether it's respect for nature or respect for future, how to treat different things. [00:17:00] HOST: Maybe there's one example that you could offer us so we can understand how that plays out. [00:17:06] GUEST: Yeah, this is a really long story, but we have this one story where these four men were out on a seal hunt, and they found this one fish that was slapping on the side of the canoe. So they grabbed it, and they ripped off his fins, and they threw him back in the water, and he swam underwater, and he told this supernatural being underwater, which is a two fin killer whale, what had happened that the men ripped off of these fins off of his arms. And so this supernatural being basically took the four men underwater and kept them there for four days. And when you're with a supernatural being, one day is equivalent to one year. And so when the men were finally released back up to the surface, they went back to their village, which they thought was four days. It turned out to be four years. The community assumed they were dead. Their families assumed they were dead. And so that story was really about respect. And the men had disrespected this rat fish, and for that, they were punished. And their four days under the water turned out to be four years. And that story is really about having respect for nature and also respect for people. And so that's something that's ingrained in all of our stories. And our elders, especially, tell these young kids so that they grew up with these sort of values. That sort of lesson is almost ingrained in each one of our stories, and we take that and apply it to current management today, how we do things. [00:18:24] HOST: Thank you so much for sharing that. The specifics of it are so valuable for people to hear and to understand. So much of traditional knowledge is shared through storytelling. We do a lot of work with bear relatives and wolf relatives, too. I'm wondering if you can speak to any of the particular lessons or gifts in your community about what they bring. [00:18:47] GUEST: Absolutely. They're in our songs and our dances and our stories, in our clan systems, in our totem poles. And I think they're all respected for different abilities, and certainly things like bears are respected for their strength and their power, wolves and their family values. A lot of our stories connect wolves to killer whales. They're very closely related, and partly because how they work together as a family and their values and their teamwork, and that's something that we carry forward in our clan systems and how we organize ourselves. [00:19:20] HOST: Speaking of storytelling, what made you and Deirdre Leoinata decide to make the film keepers of the land? [00:19:26] GUEST: I've been dreaming about a film for ten plus years. I guess there was really three or four objectives we really wanted out of the film. Number one, we wanted something that was able to capture the elders passing on the message of stewardship, responsibility. And I think we were able to capture that quite strong in the film. We hope this film stands the test of time, that 30 years, 40 years from now, our people can watch that and understand that they have a stronger stewardship, responsibility. We'll continue to build it on the ground, but for us, it's not just a job. This is our lifestyle. This is our responsibility. And I think that's really important that the next generations understand that and also other people understand that as well. I would say, number two, we really wanted to highlight the marine world. I've seen so many boring films where politicians are talking about how important the ocean is and maybe some waves crashing in the background. And that's the extent of their marine planning promotion. We wanted to get underwater, and that's with something like Deedron, Tavish. They're divers, they're young, and they're getting under there and filming what's going on underwater. And that was really cool. Some of that herring footage where the ducks are down there, it was just really cool. So they got some of the neatest footage. So that was really important. And then the third part is that we see so many groups come in, fundraise in my territory. They come up and that they continue to say, give us some money and we'll continue to do things. And I think about some of the things that go on. Some of them don't do anything. They ride around in the nice boat, and they're not changing anything. They're not changing policies, they're not changing management. They're not driving science. And so I think about the work we do at my community. That's all we do. We're driving a ton of different projects, whether it's on bears, whether it's on salmon or mountain goats or rockfish. We do tons of research. We're incorporating traditional knowledge and local knowledge, and we're merging that with western science. More often than not, we are providing way more information that even government we have. We're invested, and we've had a lot of success as a result of some of our work. We made able to shut down things like the grizzly bear hunt in 2017. Last year, we shut down the black bear hunt, which is pretty cool because our black bears carry a recessaging that produced the spear bear. We were able to get some refuge areas for things like sea cucumber, and that was massive. We're probably one of the only communities on the coast that have that. So we do a lot of conservation work. We have a lot of protected areas, and we're going to move forward with more protected areas. And so part of it was to really just kind of highlight the work that we do at the community level. [00:21:47] HOST: Well, this film is a beautiful testament to the lineage of your people and your values, your lifestyle. As you're saying, it's really a beacon to the rest of the world. Of this is how it's done. I want to ask how young people are contributing to these efforts because it's a big piece in the film and I know that it's a very formal part of the process. [00:22:08] GUEST: We started to really develop youth programs probably about twelve years ago. We worked with one group, Nature United, and we developed a program called the Seas Program, which stands for seaporting emerging aboriginal stewards. And the whole intent of the program is to get these kids tied to the outdoors and culture. And we are exposing them to all of those programs. They get to go out and do all the mapping on the forestry side. So they're mapping out all the monumental cedars or wildlife habitat. They're making sure that all the wildlife habitat are protected, whether it's grizzly bear habitat or marble muralettes or tailed frog. And so that's pretty cool. They're mapping out all of our old village sites. They're protecting those so it gives them firsthand experience and gets them out there. They get connected to those areas and they feel a strong connection, whether it's a cultural connection or whether it's more of a spiritual connection. They get be out there and see it and feel it. And it's not just something that's theoretical. When we were developing this program, there were some challenges. People wanted to see some results. What are we going to get from these kids? Are we going to get a degree or a diploma? Well, no, it's a long term investment. In five and ten years, these kids are going to be the next leaders. They're going to be the next band councils or economic development or hereditary chiefs, and it'll be their responsibility. And so when it's their time, they'll be ready. And those kids that we had in the program twelve years ago now run our programs. They're the head of our watchman programs or part of leading our science programs. And we have more kids going off to post secondary and getting their degree and merging that with some local knowledge. It's been huge to see that shift. Our future is looking bright with the next generation. And that's really important that we groom, because that's always been a part of our culture. That's how we do it. On the hereditary chief side is groom to make sure people are ready. And I think that's what we've been doing with some of the youth. And that's why they've been highlighted throughout all of the programs and leading the programs, which is good. [00:23:53] HOST: Again, all I can do is emphasize to listeners that this is how it's done. This is the way to a better future for all life. What message would you offer to others looking to improve ecological protections in their community? [00:24:06] GUEST: The just do it approach. We are a tiny community. We're 350 people in the heart of the great Bear rainforest. We were able to develop a vision. We threw around words like conservation based economy 30 years ago, and we've been working toward that for the last number of years. We went from about 90% unemployment to 95% employment. And a big part of that is a conservation based economy. And we're doing it through protection, we're doing it through things like ecotourism. I think there's a lot of benefits, and I think people need opportunities, and I think there's a way to do it. Grooming the next generation to make sure that there's something that carries on, continues to live on. And then through collaboration. The more this sort of worked, I started to realize it's about relationships, and that's been very important, whether it's been relationships with provincial governments or federal governments, or scientists or community members, youth, even with stakeholders. We meet with all the companies in a few days, I got a meeting with all the companies that operate in our territory, and we have just very open and honest discussion, and we're able to sort out a lot just from talking. [00:25:06] HOST: The fragmentation and kind of opposition within conservation movement is something that I hear a lot of conflict around. Do you feel like there's any particular process or value that has allowed you to be a better collaborator than maybe other organizations who can't overcome silos or can't really work with governments or with other organizations? [00:25:33] GUEST: Yeah, I've seen this. I worked with all different types of groups and, yeah, it's kind of this weird mentality where it's very competitive and it doesn't have to be like that. I think there's strength in numbers, and if you break down some of those barriers that you put up, I think you're able to accomplish quite a few things. There needs to be a bit of a paradigm shift in how we think, how we work together and how we collaborate. I've seen even shifts in my area on the central coast, where it's multiple nations and we all have overlapping territories, and that was a conflict for a number of years, but we agreed to set those aside and say, listen, let's work together. We all have very similar issues and let's put our differences aside and work for the benefit of conservation and stewardship. And we did, and it's been really beautiful and we're able to work with all of our neighbors. They were able to work with us, and we've been able to move some mountains as a result. If we can continue to do that in all different sectors, I think we'll be better for it. [00:26:23] HOST: Just as a side question, but have you done any species reintroduction or rewilding projects? [00:26:29] GUEST: Yeah, there's been a lot of work that's been done on things like abalone. Abalone was wiped out by the commercial fisheries a number of years ago. We've been driving a lot of science and trying to bring up their numbers and trying to group them all together so that they have a better chance of spawning. So there's been a bit of work around that kelp. Right now, we're doing a lot of work around kelp, in particular macrocystis. And so we're growing kelp. And a lot of our kelp forests were lost, especially after the fur trade and hunting of all the otters. And then once all the otters were gone, all the sea urchin exploded and ado have the kelp. And so we do a bunch of things around that right now. [00:27:02] HOST: That kelp and otter dynamic has been problematic on the California coast too, I've heard. I'm wondering if, in working with the kelp and the abalone, have you seen any kind of other unexpected co benefits besides just bringing back those populations? [00:27:19] GUEST: Well, not quite yet. We're still in the early stages of kelp. We're probably our second year in right now, and we hope they'll turn out well. Abalone has been a lot more difficult in terms of their population and numbers coming back. And again, they're broadcast spawners, and so you need large populations of them together in order for them to be successful. And there's a bit more science going on around that right now, and I hope that is something that is successful, but I don't think most of our people haven't seen an abalone in probably 25 years. [00:27:47] HOST: Is there anything I didn't ask you about that you really feel like you wanted to discuss? [00:27:51] GUEST: Something that's really important for me is helping shape some of the policies. I'd love to indigenize some of these policies. As indigenous people, we've lived with wildlife for thousands of years. They're ingrained in our songs and our stories and our dances and very much a part of who we are. But yet we do not have a say in wildlife management. We've never had a say in the wildlife act or the Fisheries act or the Oceans act or any of these acts that other people have created. I think now there's a bit of a shift in thinking, and I hope that we have an opportunity to have a city, and I really think that it'll help bring some balance. And I think it's not just about extraction, but I think there's a way to look at things in a holistic way and a respectful way. So I look forward to this new era that we're in. I think we're in this reconciliation era. It feels like we finally have people that are listening and want to hear us. I also think First nations are pushing also to assert that as well. So I think there's a resurgence going on. A lot of people are frustrated in terms of seeing everything just get wiped out. [00:28:51] HOST: One aspect of this shift or this kind of resurgence of indigenous power that I'm hearing about is there's a vacuum of leadership. And even though each community is different in indigenous societies, there is such depth in leadership. And I just keep seeing that there are strong leaders that we desperately, desperately need to be taking charge as much as possible because it's not going to come from anywhere else. [00:29:23] GUEST: Yeah, we are opening the door. We're pushing the limits of where we can go, and I really hope we'll indigenize some of these policies. If we don't, we're always going to have problems on the ground. There's multiple forms of knowledge. Everyone looks at the western science as the model, but there's indigenous knowledge, there's local knowledge, there's traditional ecological knowledge, there's street knowledge. And so I think there's all different types. It's time that we open up and look at all the different avenues to make sure that we're incorporating the best information so that we can make informed decisions. [00:29:51] HOST: I can understand your focus on the policies, but I can also see that you're really moving forward on improving economic outcomes as well. That uplift people provide alternatives. Doing ecotourism instead of logging, for instance, is an economic shift that doesn't require government approval. [00:30:11] GUEST: Absolutely. Yeah. There's a lot of spin off benefits that come from things like ecotourism, where people get paid to be themselves. They get paid to interpret who they are and where they're from, and they're getting out in the land. I also remember this big debate when we were starting up tourism. This is around 1999, and it was a very controversial issue in the community. And the community said, are we going to have all these tourists looking in on our windows? Are they going to buy out all the food in our little store, are they going to buy out all the fuel at a fuel station? And the biggest question I got was, am I selling my culture? What are we doing? And it was looking like the community was going to vote no on tourism. The meeting was going sideways. And I thought, oh no, this is not looking good. But one of our elders got up and she was the oldest lady in the community and very much highly respected lady. We call her a matriarch. And she got up and said, listen, our youth are becoming very disconnected. They're not learning their songs, not learning their dances, not learning their stories, they're not learning their territory. And she said, if tourism is going to be a vehicle that's going to help get them out there, she said, I think we should do it. And nobody spoke against her. And she made the decision by herself that day, which was super powerful. And she came to me at the end of the meeting and said, don't bullshit. Make sure that I do my due diligence, do my homework, to make sure that I'm being respectful in how we move forward, what stories I can tell, what places we can go. And we did. We sorted that out. And that was so powerful. But she had this vision that this was going to help get our young people connected. And it does. I mean, these kids now involved in tourism, they get to go stand at the same land that their ancestors stood. They get to share those ancient stories that come from that land. They get to share the stories of respect that they learn from those stories and able to pass on to other people. There's so much benefit, and our steel station makes money, our store makes money as a result. And so it's a lot of spin off that comes from that. There's a healthy way to look at economic opportunities, and there's a respectful way to do that. [00:32:06] HOST: Well, I've really enjoyed this conversation, and I hope you found it respectful, too. I just really appreciate everything that you're doing. Let us know if there's ways we can collaborate and support. [00:32:19] Speaker D: Take me to the water, take me through the trees, you are all I need. Teach me how to fish, teach me all of this. You are all I need. Show me all the trails, show me how to fail so I can succeed. I know this world is big and there's so much to see but you are all I need. [00:33:13] HOST: That was an excerpt from the beautiful. [00:33:15] HOST: Song all I need by Milan Andre Boranell. This podcast is made possible by the International Wildlife Coexistence Network. Wildlifecoexistence.org is your hub for sharing solutions. [00:33:30] HOST: Building community, and getting involved. [00:33:33] HOST: We'll be back soon with another exciting conversation. On for the wild ones.

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