First Stewards: Engaging Native Communities in Sanctuary Management
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, designated in 1994 to protect a productive upwelling zone, was a first for the sanctuary system: this site is entirely encompassed by the traditional harvest areas of the Hoh, Makah, and Quileute tribes, and the Quinault Indian Nation. Common interests and joint authorities led the coastal treaty tribes, the State of Washington, and the sanctuary to create the Intergovernmental Policy Council (IPC) in 2007, a regional forum for resource managers to exchange information and develop recommendations for resource management within the sanctuary.
Native peoples have invaluable knowledge that we seek to integrate into sanctuary management. The sanctuary system involves Native Hawaiian communities and integrates traditional knowledge and perspectives in management of Papahānaumokuākea, a place where nature and culture are one. 20% of the representatives on the advisory council are Native Hawaiian and the Native Hawaiian Cultural Working Group includes over 65 people. Native peoples also sit on the advisory councils for Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale, Fagatele Bay, Channel Islands, and Thunder Bay. In a different kind of effort, in 2001, Channel Islands supported the Chumash community's long awaited return to the islands in a traditional plank canoe called a tomol. The 'Elye'wun (Swordfish) made her first historic crossing from the mainland to Limuw (Santa Cruz Island), now an annual event. The efforts continued with the First Stewards climate symposium at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in July 2012.