Pursuing Better Stewardship and Better Futures: Centering Native American Histories and Perspectives

The United States recognizes over 500 American Indian or Alaskan Native nations. There is extraordinary variety in the cultural, spiritual, and stewardship practices among Native American peoples. Sincere collaboration with Native nations provides non-Native land stewards an opportunity to confront an often terrible history, steward landscapes effectively for more stakeholders, and pursue a better future between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

The first step to this collaboration is a process of learning. By respectfully listening to the histories and perspectives of Native voices, stewards can increase the likelihood of collaboration that is respectful and beneficial to Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders. This project provides an example for students at the Yale School of the Environment(YSE), as well as many others, of a first step towards this learning process. 

Reid worked with post-graduate fellows at Yale Forests to create a public reading group centered on Indigenousnations, especially the Nipmuc Nation in the Northeast. The organizers collaborated with Tiana Wilson-Blindman, as well as Meghanlata Gupta of Indigenizing the News, to highlight Native issues told from Native perspectives. Reid and his colleagues published weekly posts that centered on content from Native authors, podcasters, researchers, and storytellers. The posts were published through the Yale Forests Instagram account and through a separate listservcreated specifically for the reading group. The reading group ended the summer with 140 listserv members and morethan 1,000 Instagram followers. The eight weekly posts investigated: erasure and the concept of wilderness, landtheft, King Philip’s War regarding erasure and theft, tribal sovereignty, land allotment, guardianship, African-Native American Intersectionality, and Native activism.



Reid Lewis, Western Resources Fellows, Land Management Field Practicum Participant, and Symposium Coordinator | Reid graduated with a Master of Forestry degree from Yale School ofthe Environment, and currently works for the Yale Forests in a postgraduate fellowship assessing the carbon stocks of Yale’s forests.Hailing from Flagstaff, Arizona, he will soon be returning to YSE to pursue a PhD that examines the intersection of forest carbon, climate change, and active stewardship. Outside of work, you can find Reidgoing for a stroll, luffing a sail, or reading a good book. See what Reid has been up to.  |  Blog