Sonni Tadlock

Project title: "One day you're gonna know you won't starve here": A social and cultural exploration of Coast Salish restoration of clam gardens

Degree: MPH | Program: Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) | Project type: Thesis/Dissertation
Completed in: 2019 | Faculty advisor: Elaine M. Faustman


Since time immemorial, First Nations shaped the environment around them to create and maintain highly productive societies. Today with the growing threats of a changing climate and continued nearshore development, important traditional resources may not be available for future generations. Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) systems are more important than ever in decision making and restoration practices as these threats increase in the Salish Sea. One example of a structure built and managed utilizing TEK is the ancient mariculture known as clam gardens: a purposely constructed rock-walled terrace that increases the habitat and productivity of traditional foods. This research aims to utilize the case study of a clam garden eco-cultural restoration in the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Canada to better understand the relationship between humans and ecosystems and how focusing on those relationships offer a model for success in restoration and management. For this master’s thesis research qualitative data was obtained utilizing participant observations during restoration events and open-ended interviews with willing members of W̱SÃ NEĆ First Nations traditional knowledge working group. We found that all people involved in this project bring unique experiences, backgrounds, and motivations. We also found that this work has qualities and attributes that expand the current definition of resource active management. We identified ten qualities of the clam garden restoration work: Connections, Sharing, Work, Intergenerational, Caring for the Land, Knowledge, Alive, Engrossed, Commitment, and Food. By conducting this research utilizing Indigenous Research Principles we aim to inspire future research to obtain better data, establish better long-lasting relationships with Tribal and First Nations communities, and empower the next generation of Indigenous Scholars to conduct research for their communities. URI