Scientific research when incorporated with traditional knowledge not only leads to efficient and effective data collection but also helps built a cordial relationship and understanding of the importance of each other. Mackenzie Gewex (Global Energy and Water Cycle experiment) study MAGS met the Deline community in an attempt of exchanging information with the aim of gaining better understanding of the atmosphere and water environment in the region.
This research was partially funded by the Natural Sciences and engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada with an intention of informing the scientific teams, communities and other stakeholders in research about the importance of incorporating traditional knowledge in scientific research. Deline is located in North West territories of Canada at 650 N and 1230 W and was known as Fort Franklin until 1993 when the Sahtu, Dene and metis comprehensive land claim Agreement renamed it Deline which means “where water flows.
” Prior to the July 2005 meeting there had been numerous interactions between MAGS and Deline community representatives especially in 2003 when some of the Deline were trained and hired to assist in setting up field sites and in making field observations during research. Dene traditional knowledge was found to be very knowledgeable in areas of: air, water, land, wildlife and people and their ways of interactions.
They were also found to be well informed in the ethical and spiritual dimensions that guide people’s interaction with one another and with their environment. When this traditional knowledge was shared with researchers it was found to be a baseline in their understanding of the landscape and climate systems of the Deline area whereas the scientific knowledge as provided by MAGS provided scientific explanations on many observed climate and water phenomenon especially of a broad regional front as observed by the locals.
The meeting between MAGS and the Deline community provided a great opportunity of direct exchange of information on climate and water between holders of traditional and scientific knowledge of Deline. The meeting resulted into a realization that traditional knowledge can be a source of climate history as well as baseline data in the formation of research questions and hypotheses, as insight into impacts and adaptations of artic communities and also as a community-based monitoring for long-term environmental changes.
Additionally,it was found to integrative considering the environment as a whole entity that provides physical as well as spiritual well-being to its people(Mackenzie valley p38) Thus traditional knowledge systems were found to the very dynamic as they incorporated new information from a variety of sources including scientific research.
Meeting of MAGS scientists and the representatives of the Aboriginal community resolved that traditional knowledge is very critical in scientific research since it was well vast with the local landscape and Climate systems over a long period times whereas scientific knowledge provided explanations for the many observed environmental changes. It was also found that traditional knowledge improves each day since it incorporates knowledge from other sources such as scientific research.
From the meeting it was further agreed that scientific investigations as well as traditional knowledge together help guide communities, researchers and other stakeholders in decision making concerning their environment.
Mackenzie et al. ARCTIC, Science Meets Traditional Knowledge: Water and Climate in the Salty (Great Bear Lake) Region Northwest Territories, Canada (March 2007) Vol: 60 No. 1 P. 37-46