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3 April 2019 Frontiers are Frontlines: Ethnobiological Science Against Ongoing Colonialism
Chelsey Geralda Armstrong, Christie Brown
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Ethnobiologists are capable of making transformative scientific contributions when they participate in localized direct actions and acts of colonial dissent. Direct action tactics like blockades, protests, and re-occupations of territories are often used as (alternative) approaches for marginalized and disenfranchised communities who face expensive and oppressive justice systems. As natural resource extraction and development in settler nations continues to have uneven impacts on Indigenous Peoples and communities, this research reviews the long history of resistance to colonial expansion on the “frontier” of northwestern British Columbia, Canada. Currently, an emergent trend for legalizing and legitimizing resource extraction in rural and frontier communities is through consultation and impact assessment processes. These processes can undermine scientific rigor and hierarchies of knowledge that undercut Indigenous Peoples' knowledge, and rights to use and be on their territories. Using ethnobiological research methods to fuse cultural and natural scientific prescriptions of land use, we consider how cultural resistance camps—primarily Lelu Island, but also Madii Lii—are troves of Tsm'syen and Gitxsan experiential knowledge and cultural exchange, while resisting powerful and well-funded liquid natural gas (LNG) development in traditional territories. Ethnobiologists working in these contexts are challenged to support and stand behind their Indigenous colleagues to transform the frontier into a frontline and foster rigorous scientific research alongside Indigenous resistance.

Chelsey Geralda Armstrong and Christie Brown "Frontiers are Frontlines: Ethnobiological Science Against Ongoing Colonialism," Journal of Ethnobiology 39(1), 14-31, (3 April 2019).
Published: 3 April 2019

British Columbia
direct action
resource extraction
traditional land-use
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