Managing culturally significant plants in Cherokee homelands: emerging platforms
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), and the USDA Forest Service are engaged in integrated research and action to manage forests for culturally significant plants within portions of traditional Cherokee homelands. The effort seeks to support EBCI arts, food sovereignty, and cultural practices while promoting coordinated forest stewardship guided by Cherokee knowledge. The focus area includes the Qualla Boundary (EBCI tribal lands); the Pisgah, Nantahala, and Cherokee National Forests; and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Examination of synergistic efforts to date suggests an emerging platform for access, sustainable harvesting and improved ecological conditions. Here, a platform is conceived of as long-term institutionalized collaboration across policies, practices, and governance at different scales. Building on approaches to adaptive collaborative management with Indigenous peoples at the landscape level indicates that key features of platform building in this context include responding to Indigenous priorities, fostering cross-boundary relationships, community engagement, and co-producing knowledge.