Knowledge Pluralism in First Nations’ Salmon Management

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Bingham, JA
Milne, S
Murray, G
Dorward, T

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There is growing interest in the “integration” of knowledge and values held by Indigenous peoples with Western science into natural resource governance and management. However, poorly conducted integration efforts can risk harming Indigenous communities and reifying colonial legacies. In this regard, dichotomous conceptualizations of Indigenous and scientific knowledges are problematic. In this research, we focus on the role of indigenous and scientific knowledges in the management of coho salmon (Oncorhyncus kisutch) on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia (BC) in a governance context featuring contested authority among First Nations (Indigenous peoples) and the government of Canada. We discuss an example from a particular Indigenous community, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (TFN), that has worked with other management bodies to establish practices for the restoration, enhancement and harvest of cuẃit (coho). After outlining relevant Tla-o-qui-aht values, knowledges and decision-making processes, we consider the pluralistic approach to Indigenous and scientific knowledges in Tla-o-qui-aht management of cuẃit and show that pluralistic, co-constitutive, and multiplicative understandings of Indigenous and scientific ways of knowing may provide better grounding for addressing challenges in integration efforts. We also emphasize the importance of engagement with FN community liaisons and deferral to FN leadership to align management efforts with FN structures of knowledge production and governance, maintain ethical engagement, recognize Indigenous agency, and support effective conservation, and management efforts.


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knowledge pluralism, Indigenous knowledge, fisheries management, fisheries governance, knowledge integration, western science, salmon, pacific northwest


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Bingham, JA, S Milne, G Murray and T Dorward (2021). Knowledge Pluralism in First Nations’ Salmon Management. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8. 10.3389/fmars.2021.671112 Retrieved from

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Grant Daniel Murray

Associate Professor of Marine Policy

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