Karuk People have survived an era of genocide, suppression of cultural management practices, and extraction based management throughout our territorial landscapes against all odds. This has created many social, economic, and ecological disparities. The traditional ecological knowledge, practice and belief systems of the Karuk are at risk of loss. We have fought hard to maintain these systems but it gets harder with each generation. There is a critical need for maintaining our cultural identity, but to do this we need to revitalize the indigenous stewardship practices of our people.
Not only are Karuk people among the most economically depressed in California, but many local aquatic, aviary, plant, and wildlife species are in decline, with some facing extinction. People have been taught that humans are separate from nature, not a part of it. The very term “indigenous” however means “natural to place”. Karuk monetary systems do not translate to contemporary societal system, which means that in order to be indigenous to place, you have to remain economically depressed while watching the fish, water, wildlife, and plants diminish in quality and abundance. Future generations deserve better than this and your investment can help to set them on the right path.
The Karuk Tribe's Department of Natural Resources (Department) was established in 1989 as a fisheries department with congressional appropriation of $150,000. Over the past three decades, the Department has grown to staff over 35 employees managing 89 project budgets related to 9 integrated program areas. These programs are housed within three primary departmental branches; The Administrative Operations Branch, Eco-Cultural Revitalization Branch, and Watersheds Branch. Together we progress the mission to protect, enhance and restore the cultural/natural resources and ecological processes upon which Karuk people depend. Department staff ensure that the integrity of natural ecosystem processes and traditional values are incorporated into resource management strategies.
The Department is primarily funded through grants, which brings the challenge of achieving sustainable action. One grant allows one sector to scale up, while the loss of another causes diminished functions critical to maintaining consistent mission critical progress. In the interest of resolving this, the Endowment for Eco-Cultural Revitalization Fund (Endowment Fund) has been established. With this fund we are working to transfer knowledge to our youth, to change policies on land, water, fisheries and fire management, to revitalize our cultural principles and practices, to build sustainable capacities for current and future generations, and on everything in-between while moving away from dependency on grants and extraction based forest management systems.
As a donor, there are many things you can do. You can learn more by searching the hashtag #EndowActionNow on your favorite social media platform. Sharing interesting information with your friends, family, and coworkers can build interest in our cause. Small monthly donations are another way to help. Giving big during give day campaigns like #GivingTuesday really moves the needle when it comes to inspiring others to donate. Volunteering to become a fundraiser for the cause can be an enormous help. Asking your employer about their corporate matching gift program and sharing our Benevity Causes Profile
is another way to provide support. Subscribing to receive updates (coming soon) is an excellent way for us to share our most up to date information in regard to what your support is helping to achieve. Perhaps the most important call to action we can make right now, is to ask you to watch this short film regarding our climate change and capacity building
Our youth are just starting to overcome the inter-generational trauma imposed upon our tribal community. Creating opportunity for them is after all what we all work for. Climate change is creating problems that we cannot solve without our indigenous management principles and practices. This is of course only a piece to the global issues we see today, but to think globally, we need to act locally, and to act locally in an effective manner we need to establish some degree of self-reliance. There is always something falling short when it comes to funding to enable mission progress. Contributing now will help alleviate short term limiting factors just as much as it will build sustainable funding for future generations.
The staff at the Department of Natural Resources will continue to dedicate their work to fixing the natural world. It will not be easy by any means, with or without your support, but perseverance is our only viable choice. Without people like you, we would not be so close to the largest dam removal effort in US history, we would not be leading the West in the controlled burning movement, and we would not be among the first in California demonstrating how indigenous leadership can become the foundation upon which the future of Collaborative Stewardship
Thank you for your support!