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Indigenous communities around the world have long managed forests, fisheries, and farmland.

But Jessica Hernandez, a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Washington, Bothell, says Indigenous knowledge is sometimes disregarded in academic circles.

“As an Indigenous scientist, an Indigenous woman studying environmental sciences, I often didn’t see Indigenous knowledge validated as a form of science,” she says.

Hernandez was raised in Los Angeles by parents from Indigenous communities in Mexico and El Salvador.

“The way that we pass down our knowledge is through storytelling, through oral traditions,” she says. “It’s not through written records that underwent the peer review process.”

In her recent book, “Fresh Banana Leaves,” Hernandez argues for applying Indigenous knowledge to the climate crisis and other environmental issues.

She says many Indigenous communities are on the front lines of climate change.

“Our Indigenous communities are actually taking steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change, and that’s a lot through protection of our environments, through the healing of our environments,” she says.

So she argues that blending Indigenous perspectives with Western science can help produce more effective, holistic solutions.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media