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study if they feel that the research methods or results may not be acceptable (Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies 1997).



It is important for wilderness researchers and managers to consider the issues of race and ethnicity (Floyd 1998). When dealing with tribal wilderness areas, researchers and managers need to develop a deeper understanding of the worldview, values and priorities of aboriginal peoples regarding wilderness and wildland areas.

Scholars conducting research in these areas must adopt methods that are sensitive to the tribal members and their spiritual and cultural traditions, and to the cultural differ- ences that exist between tribal members and nontribal members. This can include how wildlife used for research are treated in the research process; how tribal wilderness users are contacted or questioned about their use of the wilderness; and the rationale for declaring some tribal wilderness areas used for traditional/spiritual purposes off limits for nontribal members.

The participants in this dialogue session offered a num- ber of research priorities and issues for discussion during the session. Some of the priorities discussed included: a better understanding of how aboriginal people define or view the concept of “wilderness”; the importance of the wildlands land base to tribal members; value and sense of place related to wildlands; recreation access of nontribal members to tribal wilderness, including the expectations of both tribal and nontribal members on use of these areas; effective tourism models where tribal members are inter- acting with visitors for recreational use of tribal wildland areas; the cultural experience desired by nontribal member wilderness users; access to sacred sites in both tribal and nontribal wilderness; and, effective interpretation and communication methods (trailhead signs) to reach both tribal and nontribal wilderness users. The research issues discussed included: language barriers between research- ers and some tribal members; how researchers can under- stand all the issues and concerns since tribes are so differ- ent and unique; who should be conducting this type of research, academics or land managers or tribal members trained in research methods; who should be funding this research, tribes or the Federal Government or foundations; how researchers can do their work and not exploit tribal communities; and how to deal with the lack of trust in the tribal community.

Any research on tribal wilderness areas must be con- ducted with respect for the cultural values and traditions of the aboriginal peoples who claim these special areas. Of primary concern is the cultural value attributed to them by tribal members. One example of that value is the ordinance that created the Mission Mountain Tribal Wilderness of the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes in Montana, which states that “Wilderness has played a paramount role in shaping the character of the people and the culture of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes; it is the essence of traditional religion and has served the Indian people of these tribes...in countless ways for thousands of years” (Confederated Salish- Kootenai Tribes 1982).




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USDA Forest Service Proceedings RMRS-P-15-VOL-2. 2000

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