How does Mount Rainier help maintain traditional tribal plant harvesting?

University of Denver
Denver, Colorado
DOI: 10.18258/0469
Raised of $1,500 Goal
Funded on 6/30/13
Successfully Funded
  • $1,506
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 6/30/13

About This Project

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What is the context of this research?

My research will pursue an analysis of how tribes with historical resource connections to Mount Rainier understand and value tribal control over traditional terrestrial plant resources. Furthermore, what is the importance of Mount Rainier in these revitalization efforts? I will attempt to answer these questions through participant observation and interviews in the context of traditional resource harvesting events.

GOALS: I hope in documenting the historical progression of Indigenous values concerning resource sovereignty and a compilation of Indigenous understandings of the values connected to resource use in the past and present, I will increase societal recognition of the importance of resources in the maintenance and longevity of resource use and Indigenous identities. Specifically, that sovereignty over traditional resources is more about the identity of Indigenous people rather than what sustenance they need to survive. Additionally, my findings would ideally increase public understanding of the importance of place in Indigenous harvesting processes. Finally, I will disseminate my findings in the form of a pamphlet and an offering of all my data to the Nisqually Tribe to include in their currently-in-creation cultural center. These forms of dissemination will be offered to the tribes involved in my research. Additionally, the portion of my thesis that covers historical Indigenous use of Mount Rainier will be given to the MORA in the case of litigation concerning the right of Indigenous peoples to harvest within the boundaries of the National Park.

What is the significance of this project?

Currently, resource collection within the National Park Service is a highly politicized and emotionally charged issue. Environmental NGOs such as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) vehemently oppose any utilization of the National Parks for other than their original purpose, as national outdoor recreation areas. On the other hand, Pacific Northwest tribes with cultural practices and heritage bound to resource collecting in the Mount Rainier area are likewise justified in their requests for small quantities of ceremonial and cultural plant species. There is an imminent possibility that If opposition continues, PEER will attempt to sue the National Park Service for a breech of mandate. In the event of litigation, there will be a need for a compilation of historical Indigenous use of the region now encompassed by Mount Rainier National Park.

WHY ME? As a former volunteer/intern at Mount Rainier National Park, I have already made various personal and profession connections within the area not only with the National Park employees, but with various tribal members that have already verbally agreed to work with me this June-September, 2013.

What are the goals of the project?

As I'm sure most of you know, there is very limited funding for MA Graduate students. Therefore, I'm am looking for funding to facilitate my meals, ground transportation (aka gasoline), housing, and photocopying/printing expenses (to complete part of the archival research I will do at Western Washington University in Bellingham).

The fieldwork and data gathering will commence this July and end mid-September, 2013.

The timeline is as follows. PHASE I: February – July, 2013: Completed introductory meetings between myself and the Nisqually and Muckleshoot for the week of March 18-22, 2013. During these meetings I began the process of establishing rapport and trust. I have identified additional contacts within the NPS that might have knowledge to contribute to my research. Furthermore, I have located all my primary ethnographic sources.
PHASE II: July – September 2013: Throughout the entirety of phase two I plan to simultaneously conduct interviews with National Park Service employees and tribal entities with traditional use of Mount Rainier. I will also participant observe in Indigenous resource collecting activities and conduct archival research.
PHASE III: September – May 2014: Immediately after the conclusion of my fieldwork in Washington State I will continue the process of interview and data organization and analysis. After sending transcripts of the interviews to their corresponding informants and possibly the tribal council itself, I will analyze my interviews with key term numbering and searches in order to find common themes and indicators of Indigenous conceptions of sovereignty. Additionally, I might return sometime in December to perform follow-up interviews.


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My budget will be used for living expenses, meals, ground transportation (ie. gasoline), and printing/photocopying of archival materials.

Meet the Team

Samantha Nemecek
Samantha Nemecek
Anthropology MA Candidate


Currently Graduate of Anthropology at the University of Denver, 2014 BA, Northwestern University, 2009
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Team Bio

I'm from West Michigan and am trying to complete my MA thesis research!

Samantha Nemecek

I'm from West Michigan and am trying to complete my MA thesis research!

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