Please take time to explore my beaded traditional ecological piece. Explore each of the four sections where there is a virtual duplicate created in Blender. Accompanying the individual work is an interview with knowledgeable Indigenous peoples from each field explaining what TEK is to them and how each piece of knowledge was used in their tribes.
The sections of this page are:
The Final Beadwork
UN Sustainability Goals
Brook M Thompson
This project was for the ASU-Leonardo, Center for Science and the Imagination Imagination Fellowship. "ASU-Leonardo and the Center for Science and the Imagination have announced the Leonardo Imagination Fellowship Program for fall 2020. Fellows selected to participate in this prototype season of the fellowship will join a virtual program to explore experimental art-science innovation practices across multiple publishing and broadcast media platforms that imagine a regenerative, vibrant global future for all. Fellows will propose and carry out hybrid creative projects and activities that integrate art and science for positive global impact aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The fellowship will support experimental work, especially across new and emerging media or publishing, to model new ways that art-science can advance resilience, justice, empathy, cooperation, generosity, trust and other qualities that make social systems and digital culture more human and more humane. The goal is not only to advance individual projects but also to connect diverse communities of practice and interest together for dialogue, engagement and empowerment." The fellowship picked three artists from a pool of 249 people representing 75 countries for its inaugural year. Find more information at or at their Instagram: @asu.leonardo
"Traditional Ecological Knowledge, also called by other names including Indigenous Knowledge or Native Science, (hereafter, TEK) refers to the evolving knowledge acquired by indigenous and local peoples over hundreds or thousands of years through direct contact with the environment. This knowledge is specific to a location and includes the relationships between plants, animals, natural phenomena, landscapes and timing of events that are used for lifeways, including but not limited to hunting, fishing, trapping, agriculture, and forestry. TEK is an accumulating body of knowledge, practice, and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (human and non-human) with one another and with the environment. It encompasses the world view of indigenous people which includes ecology, spirituality, human and animal relationships, and more."
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
For more information about TEK outside of this art piece please read, The Six Faces of Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Challenges and Opportunities for Canadian Co-Management Arrangements by Nicolas Houde (
Note: Closed captioning for videos and audio in development
The FINAL ARTWORK:
TEK v. TECH
(Click on the picture or button below to go to the interview and animation for each)
Why Beadwork as a medium?
The process of creating the artwork
Music: Tenderness from bensound.com
In beading these pieces it is not enough to simply create the piece of work with my hands but in my tribe, you also need to be in a good mindset and think good thoughts. Every bead placed down is a prayer and the beadwork itself is given a spirit. I need to be in a good mindset and happy when beading because I want to life and spirit I create in the beadwork to be a good one that provides others who witness it happiness as well.
UN SUSTAINABILITY GOALS
"The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice. Learn more and take action."
How this project is relevant to the United Nations Sustainability Goals:
Goal 2: No Hunger
Through sustainable practices such as three sisters type of agriculture and being able to harvest river and ocean animals indigenous communities will need to rely less on governmental supplied food products which tend to be less healthy. Many tribes live in food deserts, as in there are not many grocery stores or opportunities for food in close proximity, but having traditional food access restored to these groups will help mitigate the negative effects of colonization.
Goal 3: Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-Being for all at all Ages
Indigenous communities face much higher levels of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes compared to the rest of the United States population (this is also true for many other indigenous communities around the world too). These disparities came when Natives were banned from tending their land or removed and place in new areas where it was difficult to grow or hunt their traditional foods. Having traditional activities such as fishing, farming, land management restored leads to healthy eating habits, exercises, and builds a sense of community.
Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
Having water clean enough for salmon and other river and sea creatures to return is a good indicator of overall health. Having blue-green algae blooms and warning signs around the waterways people depend on for cultural activities, food, fun, and travel is detrimental to the overall health of people whose whole lively hood revolves around the waterways. Empowering traditional ecological knowledge and its values can help in the revitalization of communities through healthy waters.
Goal 7: Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth, Employment and Decent Work for all
Artisinal fishing is a job many indigenous communities rely on around the world for basic income. When there was not enough fish in the Klamath River to support a commercial season, the community was devastated. Artisinal fishing can be sustainable even on a large scale if taken with enough care and with Traditional Ecological Values in mine. These values need to not only be applied to the community itself but to the larger governments and regulatory agencies. Traditional Fire Management positions can also be created to give jobs to indigenous communities who have been doing the work in their families for generations to the benefit of everyone who shares the land.
Goal 12: Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns
Everything about Traditional Ecological Knowledge is sustainable. Many tribes do not only think of what the decisions they make will produce in a few years, their lifetime, or even their child life, but as much as seven generations past them. Traditional values on what is done with the end life of food, objects, etc is taken seriously and made so everything returns to the earth in a cycle. Modern technologies and governments can benefit from traditional knowledge and values on how to handle our increasing waste, pollution, and consumption.
Goal 13: Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and its Impacts
Tribes and Indigenous Communities need to be at the forefront of climate change. Many indigenous communities, especially those on the coastlines are the first to feel the impacts of climate change. Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge, practices, and values have kept the planet's ecosystem in peace for thousands of years. For true environmental justice, indigenous communities need to not just have a seat at the table to be leaders in the movement.
Goal 14: Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources
Many tribes and indigenous communities have been the sustainable managers for not only river, and lake, but sea life. Lessons can be learned from local tribes and communities on how to properly care for our oceans.
Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
Both the fire management and agriculture/ land management pieces touch on all these issues. Monocultures, poor nitrogen fixation, deforestation, and uncontrollably large wildfires contribute to the issues goal 15 lists. Fire management and sustainable agriculture practices are only two of many pieces of knowledge that can stop the adversities facing our lands.
Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
Tribal traditional values and laws were complex and equitable. The US constitution was partially based on the Iroquois Confederacy, which navigated relationships between multiple groups of diverse peoples. Indigenous peoples must not only be a player in these inclusive and peaceful societies but be the leaders in creating these contracts and relationships, as has been done between complex group dynamics for thousands of years.
These four pieces of traditional ecological knowledge showcased by this piece of art fit well into nine out of the fifteen sustainability goats, but there are uncountable pieces of wisdom indigenous communities around the globe still continue to hold to this day that can be integrated into every one of the United Nations Goals. That is why Indigenous Community leaders must not only be included but need to have permanent and high up roles in making these goals an obtainable reality for the benefit of all of humankind. Traditional Ecological Knowledge is not just an idea, but a way of living and a way of existing not above, but with the land, water, and creatures.