A history of the forest, Flathead Indian Reservation, Montana
As a part of my MS degree research, I defined a fuel classification system for CSKT which, resulted in crosswalk between the USFS Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS) and the Tribal Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) datasets. While completing that work, I learned a great deal about the Tribes’ efforts in establishing their Fire History http://www.cskt.org/tr/fire_firehistoryproject.htm. Once the MS was completed and through continued discussions with the tribe, a basis for of my Interdisciplinary PhD (IPhD) in Forest Resources and Anthropology was formed. My current research focuses on a complete history of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes forest via geospatial analysis in conjunction with a review of historical policies. Other than defining a historical reference, this work can assist the Tribe in recognizing the changes on the landscape as either a departure from traditional ecological knowledge or, a return to traditional practices. The Reservation was established in 1855 with the signing of the Hellgate Treaty; soon after, an influx of settlers would require the initial changes to the Tribes forested environment, to meet housing and community infrastructure needs. To better understand these changes and their associated environmental outcomes, I will examine the landscape change detection patterns while at the same time, completing an assessment of federal, state and tribal policies (along the same timeline) to determine how environmental outcomes (natural & manmade) might have been shaped or influenced by policy.
I will present a progression of my research, from the MS to the IPhD, identifying how this research will be able to assist the tribe in re-assessing their current management goals while creating culturally relevant ecologically functional landscapes for future generations. Beginning with their fire history, assessing major events on a timeline and in combination with a review of their traditional use practices, could lend itself to understanding the complex ecological processes in their forest while delineating future management scenarios. The IPhD work is on-going and is not due to be completed until June of 2017, thus preliminary results will be combined with an overview of the MS work.