Who We Are
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CNPE Advisory Board
The Center is guided by an advisory board consisting of ESF environmental scientists, environmental leaders from Haudenosaunee communities and indigenous educators from around the country. Members include:
- Henry Lickers, Director, Environment Division, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
- David Arquette, Director, Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force
- Jeanne Shenandoah, environmental leader, Onondaga Nation
- Wendy Gonyea, environmental leader, Onondaga Nation
- Richard Hill, Indigenous Knowledge Center, Six Nations Polytechnic
Faculty and Staff
Robin Kimmerer, Director
Dr. Kimmerer is a mother, plant ecologist, writer and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. She serves as the founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability. Her research interests include the role of traditional ecological knowledge in ecological restoration and the ecology of mosses. In collaboration with tribal partners, she and her students have an active research program in the ecology and restoration of plants of cultural significance to Native people. She is active in efforts to broaden access to environmental science education for Native students, and to create new models for integration of indigenous philosophy and scientific tools on behalf of land and culture. She is engaged in programs which introduce the benefits of traditional ecological knowledge to the scientific community, in a way that respects and protects indigenous knowledge.
Dr. Kimmerer has taught courses in botany, ecology, ethnobotany, indigenous environmental issues as well as a seminar in application of traditional ecological knowledge to conservation. She is the co-founder and past president of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge section of the Ecological Society of America. Dr. Kimmerer serves as a Senior Fellow for the Center for Nature and Humans. Of European and Anishinaabe ancestry, Robin is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
As a writer and a scientist, her interests in restoration include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. Dr. Kimmerer is the author of numerous scientific papers on the ecology of mosses and restoration ecology and on the contributions of traditional ecological knowledge to our understanding of the natural world. She is also active in literary biology. Her essays appear in Whole Terrain, Adirondack Life, Orion and several anthologies. She is the author of “Gathering Moss” which incorporates both traditional indigenous knowledge and scientific perspectives and was awarded the prestigious John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing in 2005. She has served as writer in residence at the Andrews Experimental Forest, Blue Mountain Center, the Sitka Center and the Mesa Refuge. Her latest book “Braiding Sweetgrass: indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants” was released in 2013.
- Kimmerer, R.W. 2013. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants.” Milkweed Editions.
- Kimmerer, R.W. 2013. The Fortress, the River and the Garden: a new metaphor for cultivating mutualistic relationship between scientific and traditional ecological knowledge. in, “Contemporary Studies in Environmental and Indigenous Pedagogies” (Sense Publishers) edited by Kelley Young and Dan Longboat.
- Kimmerer, R.W. 2012 Searching for Synergy: integrating traditional and scientific ecological knowledge in environmental science education. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 2(4):317-323
- Kimmerer, R. W. 2011 “Restoration and Reciprocity: The Contributions of Traditional Ecological Knowledge to the Philosophy and Practice of Ecological Restoration.” in “Human Dimensions of Ecological Restoration” edited by David Egan. Island Press.
- Kimmerer, RW. 2003 Gathering Moss: a natural and cultural history of mosses. Oregon State University Press.
- Kimmerer, R.W. 2002. Weaving traditional ecological knowledge into biological education: a call to action. BioScience 52:432-438.
- Kimmerer, R.W. and F.K. Lake 2001. Maintaining the Mosaic: The role of indigenous burning in land management. Journal of Forestry 99: 36-41.
- Kimmerer, R. W. 2000. Native Knowledge for Native Ecosystems. Journal of Forestry. 98(8):4-9
Neil Patterson Jr., Assistant Director
My work has been to celebrate, restore, and build relationships between indigenous communities and their aboriginal territory. This space still creates language, tradition, and story of human interaction for several thousand years. The pragmatic way in which indigenous people have co-evolved within their landscapes provides the most sublime template for re-imagining and creating sustainable food, material, and energy systems.
- Printup, Bryan and Patterson, Neil V. Jr. Tuscarora Nation. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2007
- Ransom, James, et al. Words That Come Before All Else: Environmental Philosophies of the Haudenosaunee. Akwesasne Mohawk Territory: Native North American College, 2002
- Patterson, Neil V, Jr. "Native Water Enforcement From the Grassroots Up." Universities Council on Water Resources Spring 1997: 47+
- Annunziatta, Janice W, et al. Haudenosaunee Environmental Restoration: An Indigenous Strategy for Human Sustainability. Cambridge, England: Indigenous Development International, 1992.
Colin Beier, Associated Faculty
Research Interests :
I study the structure, function, resilience and adaptive management of forest landscapes during periods of rapid social and environmental change. I am actively seeking opportunities to engage with indigenous groups and holders of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) for a variety of topics, including understanding climate change impacts, developing climate adaptation strategies, measuring forest ecosystem services and integrating TEK into adaptive resource management (particularly forests). Current research focuses on the Adirondacks of northern New York and the broader Northern Forest region. I am a co-investigator on the Learning from the Land Project with the College of Menominee Nation, funded by USDA NIFA. My background includes extensive work in Alaska and in addition to ESF's CNPE, I recently joined the Hakai Network for Coastal Peoples, Ecosystems and Management.
- Beier CM. Cultural landscapes and scientific narratives. In press. Ecology
- Beier CM, Signell SA, Luttman A, DeGaetano AT. 2011. High resolution climate change mapping with gridded historical climate products. Landscape Ecology DOI: 10.1007/s10980-011-9698-8.
- Beier CM. 2011. Factors influencing adaptive capacity in the reorganization of forest management in Alaska. Ecology and Society 16 (1): 40.
- Resilience Alliance. 2010. Assessing Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems: Workbook for Practitioners. Version 2.0.
- Beier CM, Lovecraft AL, Chapin FS. 2009. Growth and collapse of a resource system: an adaptive cycle of change in public lands governance and forest management in Alaska. Ecology & Society 14(2): 5.
- Beier CM, Patterson TM, Chapin FS. 2008. Ecosystem services and emergent vulnerability in managed ecosystems: a geospatial decision-support tool. Ecosystems 11(6): 923-938
- Chapin FS, Peterson G, Berkes F, Callaghan TV, Anglestam P, Apps M, Beier CM, Bergeron Y, Crepin AS, Danell K, Elmqvist T, Folke C, Forbes B, Fresco N, Juday G,
- Niemela J, Shvidenko A, Whiteman G. 2004. Resilience and vulnerability of northern regions to social and environmental change. Ambio 33: 344-349.
Stewart Diemont, Associated Faculty
Much of my work is with Mayan farmers and foresters in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. In Lacandon, Tsotsil, Itza, Yucatec, and Mopan Maya communities we look at how traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) contributes to ecosystem services. I am also studying how production of food and raw materials can be coupled with ecological restoration through TEK. Because the oral tradition that conserves Mayan ecosystem management is currently in decline, we seek through our research and service projects to conserve Mayan ecological knowledge for future generations.
- Nigh, R., S.A.W. Diemont, 2013. The Mayan milpa: Fire and the legacy of living soil. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11: e45–e54. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/120344.
- Endreny, T. A., and S.A.W. Diemont, 2012. Methods for assessing stormwater management at archaeological sites: Copan Ruins case study. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(8): 2637-2642.
- Ferguson, B.G., S.A.W. Diemont, R. Alfaro, J.F. Martin, J.N. Toral, J.D. Álvarez Solís, 2013. Sustainability of holistic and conventional cattle ranching in the seasonally dry tropics of Chiapas, Mexico. Agricultural Systems 120: 38-48.
- Diemont, S.A.W. and J.F. Martin. 2009. Lacandon Maya ecological management: A sustainable design for environmental restoration and human subsistence. Ecological Applications 19: 254-266.
- Martin, J.F., E. Roy, S.A.W. Diemont, and B.G. Ferguson, 2010. Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK): Ideas, inspiration, and designs for ecological engineering. Ecological Engineering 36: 839-849.
- Diemont, S.A.W., J. Bohn, D. Rayome, S. Kelsen, K. Cheng. 2011 Comparisons of Mayan forest management, restoration, and conservation. Forest Ecology and Management 261 (10): 1696-1705.
- Diemont, S.A.W., J.F. Martin, S.I. Levy-Tacher, R.B. Nigh, P. Ramirez-Lopez, and J. D. Golicher. 2006. Lacandon Maya forest management: restoration of soil fertility using native tree species. Ecological Engineering 28: 205-212.
- Diemont, S.A.W. and J. F. Martin. 2005. Management impacts on the trophic diversity of nematode communities in an indigenous agroforestry system of Chiapas, Mexico. Pedobiologia 49: 325-334.
- Cheng, K, S.A.W. Diemont, A.P. Drew. 2011. Role of tao (Belotia mexicana) in the traditional Lacandon Maya shifting cultivation ecosystem. Agroforestry Systems 82 (3): 331-336.
- Diemont, S.A.W., J.F. Martin, and S.I. Levy-Tacher. 2006. Emergy evaluation of Lacandon Maya indigenous swidden agroforestry in Chiapas, Mexico. Agroforestry Systems 66: 23-42.
- Martin, J.F., S.A.W. Diemont, E. Powell, M. Stanton, and S.I. Levy-Tacher. 2006. Evaluating and comparing the sustainability of three agricultural methods with Emergy analysis. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 115: 128-140.
- Alfaro, R., S.A.W. Diemont, B. Ferguson, J.F. Martin, J. Nahed, D. Álvarez, R, Pinto Ruíz, 2010. Steps toward sustainable ranching. Agricultural Systems 103(9): 639-646.
- Diemont, S.A.W., T.J. Lawrence, and T.A. Endreny, 2010. Envisioning ecological engineering education: An international survey of the educational and professional community. Ecological Engineering 36: 570-578.
James Gibbs, Associated Faculty
Professor of Vertebrate Conservation Biology, Associate Chair, Director of Roosevelt Wild Life Station, Department of Environmental and Forest Biology.
Gibbs’ relevant research activities have most recently focused on use of wildlife by indigenous people in Guyana (an NSF-funded “biocomplexity” grant) and assessing the impacts of grazing on biodiversity in western Mongolia (funded by USAID) by leveraging indigenous knowledge relevant to management to develop policy for the sustainable use of pasturelands in the context of climate change.
- Hunter, Elizabeth A.; Raney, Patrick A.; Gibbs, James P.; Leopold, Donald J. 2012. Improving Wetland Mitigation Site Identification through Community Distribution Modeling and a Patch-Based Ranking Scheme. WETLANDS 32: 841-850
- Gibbs, James P.; Smart, Lawrence B.; Newhouse, Andrew E.; Leopold, Donald J. 2012. A Molecular and Fitness Evaluation of Commercially Available versus Locally Collected Blue Lupine Lupinus perennis L. Seeds for Use in Ecosystem Restoration Effort RESTORATION ECOLOGY 20: 456-461
- Steen, D. A.; Gibbs, J. P.; Buhlmann, K. A.; Carr, J. L.; Compton, B. W.; Congdon,
J. D.; Doody, J. S.; Godwin, J. C.; Holcomb, K. L.; Jackson, D. R.; Janzen, F. J.;
Johnson, G.; Jones, M. T.; Lamer, J. T.; Langen, T. A.; Plummer, M. V.; Rowe, J. W.;
Saumure, R. A.; Tucker, J. K.; Wilson, D. S. 2012. Terrestrial habitat requirements
of nesting freshwater turtles. BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION 150:121-128.
Some recent books:
Fundamentals of conservation biology (with Hunter)
Problem-solving in conservation biology (with Hunter and Sterling)
Catherine Landis, Postdoctoral Associate
Catherine recently finished her doctorate at SUNY ESF. Her dissertation focused on the historical ecology of the Onondaga Lake watershed, including a broad look at Indigenous subsistence patterns. A major Superfund site, Onondaga Lake is also sacred to the Haudenosaunee as the place where the Peacemaker came to unite the warring nations and facilitate enduring peace through the Great Law. Dr. Landis earned a Master's Degree also at ESF, where she studied riparian plant establishment along an urban stream. She currently assists with the Center's efforts to enhance NYS DEC's capacity to engage Indigenous communities and incorporate biocultural resources and restoration into land planning.
Sharon Moran, Associated Faculty
Environmental degradation has shown that it is essential to reconsider almost every aspect of post-industrial life, in New York and beyond. In order to achieve something closer to ‘sustainability’ (however defined), it is essential to attend to equity and justice. While the mainstream approaches of environmental management have relied on formal governmental institutions, based in a system of laws and regulations operating at the state and national level, other approaches to environmental management are also being explored and tested. In particular, there are many Indigenous Nations and environmental organizations who are fully sovereign and therefore beyond the familiar jurisdictions. They have been establishing their own environmental management plans that use different strategies including community control, co-management, traditional knowledge, and local stewardship, among others. My students and I are interested in exploring viable organizational alternatives for environmental responsibility.
- Political ecology; environment-society relations
- Human dimensions of water/ wastewater issues
- Environmental issues in post-communist countries
- Qualitative research methods; gender and nature
- Moran, Sharon, Brenda Nordenstam, and Timothy Stenson. 2012. Sustainable Water Technologies: the Built Environment and Architect Awareness (under review).
- Moran, Sharon. 2010. "Cities, Creeks, and Erasure: Stream Restoration and Environmental Justice," Environmental Justice, June 2010, 3(2): 61-69.
- Baruah, Mitul, and Sharon Moran. 2010. "Ecological Economics". In Green Politics, ed. Paul Robbins. Sage Reference Series on Green Society, vol. 2. [online]. Sage.
- Magnuszewski, Artur, Sharon Moran, and Guoliang Yu. 2010. "Modeling Lowland Reservoir Sedimentation Conditions and Potential Environmental Consequences of Dam Removal: Wloclawek Reservoir, Vistula River, Poland." Pp. 8-16 in Sediment Dynamics for a Changing Future, ed.
- Kazimierez Banasik. Proceedings of the Symposium of International Commission on Continental Erosion. Publication 337. Wallingford, UK: IAHS Press. Available here.
- Moran, Sharon. 2009. "Bytes of Note - The State of the Toilet," Environment 51(11 November): 7-8. Available here.
- Moran, Sharon. 2008. "Under the Lawn: Engaging the Water Cycle," Ethics, Place, and Environment 11(2): 129-145.
- Moran, Sharon. 2007. "Stream Restoration Projects: A Critical Analysis of Urban Greening," Local Environment 12(2): 111-128.
Josh Drew, Associated Faculty
My work looks at community based approaches to conservation in aquatic areas ranging from Syracuse to Fiji. By looking at ways to approach conservation in a just, and equitable manner. My goal is to develop programs that lead to the protection of biodiversity while simultaneously reflecting the desires of the traditional land and sea owners, and honoring the relationships among the people, the land and the sea.
Tusha Yakovleva, Community Outreach Coordinator
My work revolves around growing strong, reciprocal relationships between land and people and has included teaching, research, and writing in ethnobotany; working with food sovereignty and land justice organizations; directing a wild foods share program; keeping seeds; growing perennials. My botanical knowledge is rooted in rural and urban soils within northern temperate forests across two continents. The foundation of my life-long plant tending practice comes from my family and first home - the Volga River watershed in Russia - where learning from uncultivated plants is common practice. Following many years in the Muheconneok watershed, I moved to Onondaga Nation homelands to attend ESF, where I’ve had the honor and joy to be guided by the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. At the Center, I coordinate community and youth outreach programs, public communications, and Justice for the Land initiatives.
Sarah Howard, Student and Capacity-Building Coordinator
Sarah recently graduated from SUNY ESF with an MS in Environmental Science. Their current work with the Center focuses on coordinating the Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership and supporting the Center’s capacity-building efforts through the development of organizational systems and processes. Sarah’s involvement with the Center throughout graduate school deeply informed and guided their Masters thesis, which examines cross-cultural partnerships for the biocultural restoration of Indigenous foods and foodways and draws on their ongoing collaborative research with co-worker Tusha Yakovleva. Prior to arriving at SUNY ESF, Sarah spent ten years working as a farmer, educator, and environmental justice organizer in southeast Louisiana. Sarah holds a BA in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality / African-American Studies from Harvard University and is happiest in the forest.
Graduate Fellows and Alumni
For Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellows and Alumni, visit the Sloan Partnership page.
Aaron Hagman, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
Aaron Hagman is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the people of the black water. He also is from Michigan and is shaped equally by the waters of the Great Lakes and the swamps of coastal North Carolina. Aaron is currently pursuing a Master's of Science in Environmental and Forest Biology under the guidance of Dr. Gregory McGee.
In 2019 Aaron received his BS from Michigan State University in Environmental Studies and Community Sustainability with a minor in environmental economics. While at MSU he also served as a research assistant for the University's Cropping Systems Agronomy Lab. Following his undergrad Aaron went on to work for both the National Park Service as a forest health technician monitoring the impacts of high mortality events on northern hardwood forests, and the US Forest Service as a silviculture technician.
Aaron now is continuing his education to explore adaptive management of forest lands in the face of global climate change, and how climate change may contribute to cultural loss in south-eastern coastal tribes. Outside of his schooling Aaron has a passion for folk art, traditional green wood working, and bluegrass music. Aaron's goal after graduate school is to return to working for federal land management agencies where he can promote tribal co-management of public lands.
Erica A. Wood, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
Erica Wood, Atmaguq, is Alaska Native Iñupiaq from the people of Fish River and the Native Village of White Mountain, Alaska. She is also Appalachian, of the mountains, and grew up in the deep South. She is a storyteller, artist, athlete and adventurer, and derives great strength from her ancestors and the rich traditions of her dual cultures. At SUNY ESF, Erica is pursuing a Master's of Science in Conservation Biology, focusing on ethnobotany. She holds a BA in International Studies with a focus on global development and food systems from Virginia Tech.
Erica has worked with food justice organizations up and down the East Coast. She taught gardening, managed a SNAP-focused farmers market, and advocated for equitable food policy at a nonprofit in North Central, Massachusetts. That experience led her to Boston, where she continued to work in the nonprofit sector on issues dealing with environmental justice and conservation. Part of her job included managing a multi-year river herring monitoring program and invasive plant management projects. In 2021 she completed a year-long fellowship with the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP), a national network that trains environmental and social change leaders. Most recently, Erica worked as an Assistant Farmer at Barrett's Mill Farm, a women-owned and operated organic vegetable farm in Concord, Massachusetts.
Erica attributes her respect and curiosity for the natural world to her childhood lived largely outdoors—and to her parents and beloved grandparents who each, in their own ways, shared their wisdom of the land. She enjoys celebrating her relationship with the land and non-human beings: foraging, fishing, farming, practicing traditional Inupiaq and Appalachian food preparation, kayaking, and walking in the woods. Erica relocated from Boston with her wonderful fiancé and cat, and is eager to build a community in Syracuse.
Cassandra Minerd, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
Sgé.noń. My name is Cassandra Minerd but I go by Bean. I am Onondaga Eel clan. I grew up and live on the Onondaga Nation. I come from a strong matriarch society as well as a strong matriarch family. My family holds strong titles within our confederacy. All of my teachings come from my late grandmother, Eel clan mother, Phoebe Hill, and my uncle is Tadodaho, Sidney Hill. I attended SUNY Brockport for my undergrad where I studied Recreation and Leisure studies. I graduated from Brockport in 2017. During my school winter and summer breaks I was involved with the Onondaga Nation Youth Group as a Youth Leader. My interest in being involved with environmental work increased during my time being a youth leader. My mentor, Hazel Powless, had our youth group be involved in many environmental programs and workshops where we created connections with students and staff from ESF as well as other environmental businesses. I was able to go to Native Earth Summer Program located in the Adirondacks where my statement I made at the end of the camp gave me an opportunity to go to NYC for the Climate Summit in 2019 where I was invited to be one of the members of the delegation to speak about Indigenous solutions to the Climate Crisis that was convened by the Nature Conservancy at the UN. Since then, I have been a part of many climate workshops that are held on the Nation. I made the big move of continuing my education at ESF where I am pursuing a Masters of Environmental Sciences. My goal is to study plants then use traditional knowledge and teachings to use native plants for healing and medicinal purposes. My other goal is also to learn ways to combat climate change to protect Mother Earth.
Kawainohiaakalani Navares, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
Aloha mai my name is Kawainohiaakalani Navares. I was born and raised on the Island of Oahu. I completed my undergrad at Humboldt State University graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Forestry and Soil Science, and a double minor in Geospatial Analysis and Indigenous Peoples, Natural Resource Use and the Environment. I started my graduate work at SUNY ESF in Forest Pathology and Mycology working under Thomas Horton. I have done a lot of work in restoration in the Hawaiian Islands, I worked with Kupu in the Koolau Mountains, removing invasive Manuka along the hillside, outreach teaching youth how to conduct Opae Ula population samples, restoring cultural sites, and educating people on the different cultural practices. I worked as a University of Hawaii, Hilo intern in the Spatial Data Analysis Lab monitoring the effect of topography on lava movement in the kilauea volcano. I was using the TEK of the area and combining it with the scientific data from the remote sensing monitoring, to create a volcanic eruption response and education system to help residents living near shield volcanoes, about evacuation and emergency preparedness.
Mariah Gladstone, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Alumni
Oki, my name Mariah Gladstone. I am Amskaapi Pikuni, Kainai, and Tsalagi and was raised in Northwest Montana. I graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Environmental Engineering and returned home where I started an online cooking show called Indigikitchen. I am passionate about sustainability and completed a service term through Energy Corps where I helped write a Climate Action Plan for the City of Whitefish. My work has been recognized me as a "Champion for Change" through the Center for Native American Youth, a "Culture of Health Leader" through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Grist 50 "Fixer." I am currently on the board of the Native Youth Food Sovereignty Alliance (NYFSA). I am pursuing my M.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Coupled Natural and Human Systems.
Susannah Howard, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
Bozho nikanek, Getsimnajeknwet ndeznekas. Bodewadmi kwe endow. Vermont ne dotchbya. Hello friends, my name is Susannah Howard, and I am a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. I am from Thetford, Vermont located on the western bank of the Connecticut River. In May 2019, I graduated from Smith College (Northampton, Massachusetts) with a BA in Environmental Geosciences and certificate in Native American and Indigenous Studies. During my time at Smith, I had many incredible opportunities to focus on traditional ecological knowledge of Indigenous communities and its mobilization to address environmental problems, especially related to climate change adaptation, including the Citizen Potawatomi Leadership Program, Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (Geosciences, Smith College), Smith College's Internship at the Smithsonian Institution (National Air and Space Museum), REU on Sustainable Land and Water Resources (University of Minnesota), and Kahn Liberal Arts Fellowship on Food (Smith College). At SUNY ESF, I am pursuing a MS in Environmental Science, in Coupled Natural and Human Systems. I will be studying how the culturally important plants of the Potawatomi, like Manoomin (wild rice) and sugar maple are and will be impacted by climate change, and how these impacts might be mitigated through intertribal collaborations among the Potawatomi Nations in the future.
Dineh Judd, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
Northwest Indian College
M.S. in Environmental Science, Coupled Natural and Human Systems
Bradley Thomas, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
My name is Bradley Thomas, I am a Snipe clan member of the Tuscarora Nation. I graduated from Canisius College of Buffalo NY in the Spring of 2016 with a B.A. in Communications Studies with a concentration in Public Relations. While in school I interned for the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and the Tuscarora Environment Program of the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force. After school I worked as an Environmental Technician for the Tuscarora Environmental Program. Next, I took a position with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as an Outreach Coordinator for the year of 2019 before coming to SUNY ESF to pursue my Masters in Forestry in the Sustainable Resource Management Department. My focus is on the application of treaty rights on public lands and incorporating cultural needs into resource management plans.
Justin T. Herne, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
She:kon sewakwe:kon! My name is Justin T. Herne and I am a Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership student in the Environmental Biology Department. I am pursuing a master's degree in Aquatics & Fisheries Science. I work for SUNY-ESF's Center for Native Peoples and the Environment as a graduate teaching assistant, where I currently provide assistance for Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer's course Indigenous Issues and the Environment. Under the advice of Dr. Karin Limburg and Neil Patterson Jr., I am crafting my thesis around fisheries management and indigenous communities. As a member of the Mohawk Nation/ Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, I have longed to use my educational experiences and passion for fisheries to support indigenous communities and tribal sovereignty. I am a 2015 SUNY-ESF alumni, where I majored in Aquatic & Fisheries Science and minored in Marine Science as an undergraduate.
Prior to graduate school, I served as a Fish and Wildlife Technician for the Hudson River Fisheries Unit out of NYSDEC's Region 3 for the past 3 years. My unit was responsible for surveying and managing the diadromous fish in the tidal Hudson River. This gave me great experience with fisheries management, the dark side of resource management, and optimal fisheries research experience. Additionally, I worked as a Field & Program Assistant for the non-profit seed organization Seedshed. While working for Seedshed, I was able to dive into the world of cross cultural partnerships and engage with different communities through seed saving, community garden support and seed rematriation. O:nen kí
Atah Cocker, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
M.S. in Environmental Science, Water & Wetland Resource Studies
Jade Morning Sky Little, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
Oglala Lakota, Gabrielino (Tongva), Chicana
Anpetu waste (Good day). My name is Jade Morning Sky Little. I am Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Gabrielino (Tongva) from California, and Chicana. I was raised in Palm Springs, CA near the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation. I received my Bachelor's of Science degree in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology with a concentration in Wildlife Health at University of California Davis in 2019. Currently, I am pursuing a Master's of Science degree in Conservation Biology at SUNY ESF. Currently, I am a Sloan Indigenous Graduate Scholar and this program has provided me immense financial and cultural support in my academic pursuits at ESF.
First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge my place within my graduate research. My research will focus on the area of Fellows Falls, which resides on Onondaga ancestral lands. As an Oglala Lakota and Tongva woman, and as an Indigenous graduate student at SUNY ESF, it is very important for me to acknowledge the early and continuing caretakers of this land. Within this project, I will advocate my inclusion by sharing my identity to help convey the importance of Place-based Knowledge and to recognize those who came before me and the knowledge I will learn from this academic opportunity.
My research will document the historical ecology of the plant community at a local
landscape and waterscape (i.e. Fellows Falls in Tully, NY) and I will analyze the
current plant biota in order to construct a biocultural restoration plan that addresses
the ecological and cultural goals. The purpose of this project is to not only address
the biocultural management of Fellows Falls, but also the cultural ties to Fellows
Falls, specifically, the Onondaga Nation. Fellows Falls is one of many areas of Onondaga
ancestral lands that have been impacted by salt mining and there is significant displacement
from this place. My thesis will not only help strengthen Indigenous methodologies
and cultural knowledge within academic literature, but also help advocate for Onondaga
connections to land and how these connections are fundamental and indispensable to
the final decision of property ownership and the environmental management of Fellows
Spencer Lone Fight, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
I am a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation, otherwise known as the Three Affiliated Tribes, on my mother's side and Muscogee Creek on my father's side. My mother is Lisa Lone Fight, and my father is William Harjo-Lone Fight. I have lived on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Reservation, the Wind River Reservation, Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, briefly on the Pima reservation, and the Tuscarora Indian Nation. I was a singer for the Wind River Reservation-based "Scout River" drum group, and I dance northern traditional style.
I am also a graduate of Dartmouth College, where I studied International Relations through the Government department and contemporary Indian Country through the Native American Studies program. During my time there I applied the precepts of international relations to the historical and contemporary situations of indigenous people in the United States. Creating detailed analyses were part and parcel of both programs, with my writing ranging from application of Foucaultian philosophy to everyday indigenous lives to military analysis of United States basing options in the Pacific.
I am continuing my education at SUNY ESF where I am pursuing a Masters of Professional Studies in Applied Ecology. Currently, my focus is on the management of invasive species, with special focus on the impact of invasive species on the cultural resources of Native Nations. My goal is to return to the regulatory agencies where I have previously worked and implement TEK-informed policies and work towards the prevention of further invasions and elevating land justice wherever possible.
Biidaaban Moses Reinhardt, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Alumni
Boozhoo (Greetings), my name is Biidaaban Moses Reinhardt. I am an Anishinaabe Ojibwe woman, a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and am from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I received my Bachelors degrees in Native American Studies and Physics from Northern Michigan University, and graduated from SUNY ESF with a Masters degree in Sustainable Construction in August 2020. My thesis research focused on traditional ecological knowledge and experimental design in contemporary building materials in the Great Lakes Region. After graduation, I was a Climate Justice Rural Fellow for MEJC Action in which I completed a media project highlighting environmental justice concerns for Michigan tribes. Currently, I work full-time as the Environmental Justice Organizer with We The People Michigan, where I am fighting for clean water and energy justice. Lastly, I am a freelance graphic designer with Williamson Creative Agency where I have led the creative concepts and graphic design for various organizations, events, and conferences such as the Native American Critical Issues Conference for five years with the Michigan Indian Education Council.
Stephanie Morningstar is Mohawk, Turtle clan with roots in Six Nations of the Grand River and Tyendinaga territories. A PhD student at SUNY ESF's Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, she is focusing her research on Biocultural Re-story-ation of culturally relevant lands. She is an herbalist, soil and seed steward, scholar, student, and Earth Worker dedicated to decolonizing and liberating minds, hearts, and land- one plant, person, ecosystem, and non-human being at a time. Stephanie is the Executive Director and Resources, Relationships, and Reciprocity Co-Director of the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust, an organization dedicated to advancing land access for Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian, and other land stewards of color. She grows medicines and food with and for her community at Sky World Apothecary & Farm; and teaches about the wonders of plant medicine at Seed, Soil, + Spirit School.
Annie Sorrell, Sowing Synergy Graduate Program
My name is Annie Sorrell I am a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. I received my Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science at Haskell Indian Nations University. I am currently pursuing my Master's degree in Conservation Biology at SUNY ESF. Growing up on the Flathead Nation where my family resides, I have an interest in understanding how reconnection to land and place can help heal intergenerational traumas that are on reservations. My current research is designed to better understand the traditional knowledge of Bitterroot Salish aromatic plants within the community living on the Flathead Nation in Montana. Living in a world today where aromatic scents can be purchased anywhere; I want to see if the traditional knowledge is being handed down through the generations or with the modern world is the knowledge being lost. I want to use the knowledge that I learn at SUNY ESF and bring it back to my communities.
Kaya DeerInWater, Sowing Synergy Graduate Program
Bozho Jayek (Hello Everyone) I am Kaya DeerInWater and I am from the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma. I grew up in California, but spent much of my time traveling to see friends and family all over the western US. I am currently pursuing my Master's degree in Conservation Biology at SUNY-ESF. In 2015 I graduated from University of California, Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Ecological Restoration and Management. During my time at Davis, I worked as a research assistant in labs whose work ranged from hydrochours seed dispersal of riparian species to post-fire regeneration and from chemical plant defenses to herbivory by insects. My research interests center around how traditional knowledge contributes to resilience in a changing world. Specifically, I am interested in how indigenous communities maintain and adapt their Traditional Plant Knowledge after removal from their traditional homelands. I want my research to have a practical application for indigenous communities. I hope it can inform adaptive revitalization efforts.
Loga Fixico, Sowing Synergy Graduate Program
My name is Loga Fixico and I'm an Amskapi Pikunni (Blackfeet) man from the High Plains of Montana. The Blackfeet Nation is a nation of warriors. And this is important to understand because it's fundamental to our social values and the way we think. But this warrior ethos has very little to do with fighting or killing, and everything to do with maintaining our responsibilities. Growing up on an Indian reservation brought challenges that I didn't expect when I was a boy. But they're challenges that I'm grateful to have been given. I'm only the second person in my family to successfully navigate college. Some of this success includes a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Terrestrial Resources), an Associate of Forestry, a Master Level Tutor Certification, and a Geospatial Science Certification. Although I now know it's far more important to learn how to learn as opposed to learning what to learn, I'm extending my passions into a Master's degree in biocultural restoration at SUNY-ESF. I find it absolutely fascinating how societies interface cultural values and ecological values, and how these connections synthesize to create functional systems of management and restoration. This is how I plan to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge and to my community's long-term wellbeing.
Raymond John Gutteriez, M.S., Ecology
Hele nuum (Hello People), my name is Raymond John Gutteriez. I started my journey in graduate school in late August 2013. I have the good fortune to be a part of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, where I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Ecology. I remember when I was a little guy, following my grandmother and great-aunt around and learning about the different plants and animals of the Sierra Nevada. I watched and listened as names were spoken, uses explained and how we—human-animals—are to care for the plants, animals, air, water, land and one another. It was these early teachings which greatly influenced the way I see the world and directed my choice of college majors. I graduated from California State University at Fresno in 2010 with a degree in Ecology. I remember being frustrated in classes, where I attempted to share a different way of knowing the land, taught to me by my grandma and auntie, and having my ideas brushed aside for not being “scientific.”
In the short history of our species we have created, and continue to create, many wounds on our Mother Earth and on our own human-spirit. We oppress and exploit the land in the same way we oppress and exploit one another. We over look that the wounds we make on the land are the wounds we make on our spirits and the wounds we make on our spirits are the wounds we make on the land. We are intrinsically interconnected. But, far too often we attempt to separate the two. There is human civilization and there is the ‘nature’, the ‘wilderness’.
I work to encourage different ways of knowing the world. I want to be a part of the movement dismantling the wall dividing traditional ecological knowledge and scientific ecological knowledge. I want to empower communities to be stewards of their local environments, to rebuild the connection between people and the land. I know what it is like being the lone voice in a room talking about TEK, for that reason I work with indigenous youth to help them develop the vocabulary explain their world views and ways of knowing in a way western minds can understand.
I guess a little more of my history might be useful. I am a person of many cultures. I am Wuksachi-Mono, indigenous from the Sierra Nevada Range in California; I am black, African American, the descendent of escaped and freed slaves; I grew up in a Mexican community, East Salinas; I have watched my family navigate the economic spectrum and move from working-class to kind of middle class. I am constantly learning about history, my history the history of struggle of poor people and people of color. I know the struggles those who have come before me have faced so that I can be where I am today. I see the legacy they have right our species, and thought we are far from being at a place respect and mutual appreciation for one another and all things I, and many like me are working to continue that legacy, to empower communities to shed the chains of imperialism and continue the transition to a more sustainable world ecologically and socially.
Sara Amanda Smith, M.S., Ecology
She.kú swakweku (Hello everyone), my name is Sara Smith and I am from the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. I am a current graduate student at SUNY-ESF pursuing a Master's Degree in Ecology. My specialty lies in forest ecosystems, specifically with plants and mycorrhizal fungi. I earned my Bachelors degree in Biology (Ecology and Conservation) and First Nation Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and I plan to incorporate both of these studies into my masters degree. During my undergraduate career, I was part of a research team that conducted a variety of studies associated with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Student Conservation Association looking at forest dynamics, fungal diversity, and invasive species. While at ESF, I will be working with the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment on the project "Forest Ecology and Climate Change in Tribal and Research Forests," a collaboration with ESF and the College of the Menominee Nation. My research is looking at the ethnomycological knowledge of the Menominee nation as well as the ectomycorrhizal succession in White Pine stands within the first 50 years of regeneration.
Undergraduate Students and Alumni
Cassandra Beaulieu, Indigenous Environmental Leaders for the Future Fellowship Recipient
Shé:kon, my name is Cassandra Beaulieu (Mohawk Nation) and I am currently pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Chemistry here at SUNY ESF with a focus on aquatic chemistry. I earned an A.S in Mathematics & Science with a concentration in chemistry at Cayuga Community College. This past summer I participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Oceanography (SURFO) at the Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island. During this time I developed a method for accurately measuring the nitrogen isotopic composition of ammonium in water samples provided by wastewater treatment facilities that discharge into the Narragansett Bay watershed. Making these particular nutrient measurements can give insight to what sources of nitrogen are controlling the watershed nutrient loads and can help in mediating eutrophication and hypoxia in the bay. I am also working on a senior project in the chemistry department at ESF dealing with the effects of CDOM (colored dissolved organic matter) on carbon dioxide gas transfer in freshwater systems. Due, in part, to these experiences, I am interested in nutrient cycling in aquatic systems and plan on pursuing a PhD in Chemical Oceanography in the near future. In regard to my involvement as an indigenous environmental leader for the future, I am enjoying connecting TEK to my interests in aquatic chemistry and learning how an indigenous cultural background can be at the forefront of my education in a STEM field.
Kathryn Goodwin, Indigenous Environmental Leaders for the Future Fellowship Recipient
Oki, my name is Kathryn Goodwin. I will be a junior in Environmental Studies with a focus in policy, planning, and law. I am from Los Angeles, where I went to community college before transferring here this past fall. I am of Blackfeet heritage and being a part of the Indigenous Environmental Leaders of the Future has allowed me to gain a closer connection to my ancestry and to others' heritages. I am interested in food security and the ways in which climate change is affecting agriculture across the world. More recently, I have become interested in learning all I can about the drought in California. As a life long resident of the state, it's water crisis is very personal to me. Seeing the news media cover it, makes me realize that what happens in California will undoubtedly affect the whole state, no matter what coast you live on. In the future, I would like to go into water policy/security and look at the ways in which water wars will be the wars of the future.
Kimberly Hill, Indigenous Environmental Leaders for the Future Fellowship Recipient
Čwe'n, kyà:0e Yehehnakwáhstha?. Hi, my name is Kim Hill and I'm from the Tuscarora Nation (near Niagara Falls, NY). I graduated from Bard College at Simon's Rock with an Associate's degree in liberal studies. I transferred to SUNY-ESF in 2013 to focus more on environmental studies and was accepted as a fellow for Indigenous Environmental Leaders for the Future. I'm currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Natural Resources Management with minors in Water Resources and Recreation Resource & Protected Area Management. Last year, I was accepted as part of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at Northern Arizona University. I've spent the past summer working with conservation issues on the Colorado Plateau and the Grand Canyon region where we did service-learning projects and various field trips. I also worked with USGS on Sagebrush Habitat Assessment in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. This summer I will be working with USGS again as part of the DDCSP. The internship is studying the impact of nonnative predators on native Hawaiian pollinators and plants while also looking at (eradication) management techniques for pollinator restoration.
Meleimoana Ta’alolo Su’esu’e, Indigenous Environmental Leaders for the Future Fellowship Recipient
Talofa, my name is Mele, I'm a sophomore majoring in Environmental Resources Engineering. I am of Samoan heritage and I was born and raised in Hawai'i. I have always been interested in environmental science, which is why I first applied to ESF. Being a part of the Indigenous Environmental Leaders of the Future allows me to learn about the importance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. I am interested in ecological restoration and sustainable development. In the future, I hope to use TEK combined with western science to promote cultural and ecological sustainability in island communities.