Project Description: 

This research evaluates the ecological impacts of the Landback movement by studying recently purchased Indigenous lands. Specifically, we will use cases of land acquisition by tribes to examine ecological trends pre- and post-acquisition, utilizing geospatial analysis and data science techniques to assess the impact of different land management regimes, as well as answer basic questions about where and how these acquisitions are taking place. This work engages with the fields of Indigenous Environmental Studies and Science (IESS), ecology, and spatial data science. 

To overcome the challenges presented by a disruption of their presence on the land, tribes have persistently worked to regain access, stewardship, and authority over their aboriginal lands. The Landback movement is, “a movement that addresses the root pain of colonization - the theft of Indigenous lands, alienation of lands for resource extraction, and the violence and genocide committed against Indigenous peoples for statehood and capitalism, and the hundreds of years of devastating after effects” (Pieratos et al., 2021). As land back happens, all other aspects of Indigenous livelihood and sovereignty can return with it. There have been significant strides in the Landback space in the last 5-10 years, making this a critical moment to evaluate how and where tribes are going about this work.

Undergraduate's Role: 

There are several pieces of this project that an undergraduate could plug into depending on their skills and individual interests. Ideally the undergraduate will help with maintaining and updating a database of Landback cases, helping secure boundary or coordinate information for spatial analysis of Landback cases, or help with transcribing interviews. Most of the work this summer will center on data science, GIS, and data compilation skills. There may be opportunities to engage in qualitative research for interviews that are likely to take place towards the end of the summer. 

Undergraduate's Qualifications: 

Individuals from Indigenous communities or a background working with Indigenous communities are especially encouraged to consider this role. Additionally, students should have one or more of the following skills: 

  • Experience with ArcGIS Pro
  • Experience with R or similar software
  • Proficient use of google doc suite of tools 
  • Qualitative research skills (transcribing interviews, coding interviews, etc.) 
  • Relevant class work in any of the above areas. 
6-9 hours