Mode of Program Participation

Academic Scholarship

Participation Type


Session Title

Indigenous Ecologies and Knowledge Systems in Appalachia: Contemporary Ramifications

Session Abstract or Summary

Environmental crises, food security, health and income disparities, and related possibilities for growing social upheaval form the parameters for urgent attention by world polities and communities in a global age. This roundtable will engage participants in critical dialogues with researchers and practitioners who have devoted their energy to preserving, advancing, and integrating Indigenous knowledge about the environment and ontologies of place to address the aforementioned concerns in the Appalachian region. Recognizing that many indigenous groups worldwide have principles of sustainability encoded in their worldviews, and have accordingly practiced techniques of natural resource management, food production, and community health maintenance informed by an intimate knowledge of local environments, contributors to this roundtable all seek to bridge knowledge systems in a mutually enhancing way through their individual research and practices, as well as their interactions with each other. For instance, we consider the ways that archaeological evidence may triangulate with oral tradition and contemporary practices to reconstruct pre-Contact diets, to gauge climate change, and to consider the ramifications of the introduction of flora and fauna from other continents to Indigenous ecosystems. Significantly, we focus on the point of view in which humans are considered part of an ecosystem rather than separate from it. From this perspective we consider the implications for community social organization in the pursuit of sustainability, while both critiquing and drqwing parallels with contemporary prat ices and concepts such as permaculture.

Presentation #1 Title

Intersecting Paradigms: Native Science, Western Dogma, and the Space in Between

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary


At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Samuel R. Cook is Director of American Indian Studies at Virginia Tech. His current research focuses on the relationship between Indigenous knowledge and Western science and how Indigenous paradigms offer new possibilities for modes of inquiry that otherwise privilege human beings. He has recently worked collaboratively to establish an Indigenous garden and permaculture community project at Virginia Tech’s Turfgrass Research Center.

Presentation #2 Title

Eastern Siouan Agricultural Practices

Presentation #2 Abstract or Summary


At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #2

Victoria Ferguson is a Monacan horticulturalist and trained dietician. She has researched past and current cultivation and dietary practices among Eastern Siouan peoples. She also developed and serves as main interpreter for the Monacan exhibit at Natural Bridge Stte Park. Ferguson integrates the People’s stories about the origins of corn and relations within the plant world with presentations about the ingenuity of intercropping and domestic/wild diet of Indigenous peoples in the Appalachian region.

Presentation #3 Title

Indigenous Natural Resource Management in the Eastern Woodlands, Pre-Contact to Present

Presentation #3 Abstract or Summary


At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #3

Jeffrey Kirwan is a Professor Emeritus of Forestry Extension at Virginia Tech and member of the Nausse Waiwash Band of Naticokes from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. His family’s management of the Blackwater wetland through controlled fire fueled his interest in Indigenous natural resource management, and he has coupled his work as a forestry extension specialist with research on Appalachian Indigenous ecologies and subsistence. He is coauthor of Remarkable Trees of Virginia

Presentation #4 Title

Archaeological Revelations About Indigenous Plant Use Ib Pre-Contact South3est Virginia

Presentation #4 Abstract or Summary


At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #4

Thomas Klatka is State Archaeologist for Western Virginia under the Department of Historic Resources. As an organic gardener, he has spent years chronicling archaeological data that provides evidence of Indigenous subsistence patterns, natural resource management, and native plant use and propagation. He has also analyzed these data comparatively with evidence of subsistence practices among other, non-Indigenous cultures in various regional historical contexts.

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Intersecting Paradigms: Native Science, Western Dogma, and the Space in Between