Indigenous Ocean Science Forum April 22-23, 2013

On April 22nd and 23rd, 2013, an Indigenous Ocean Science Forum (IOSF) was held in Portland, Oregon at The Billy Frank, Jr. Conference Center. The IOSF was hosted and organized by the Smith River Rancheria, a federally-recognized Tribe located along the northern California and southern Oregon coast. The IOSF was funded in part through a federal grant from the Regional Ocean Partnership Funding Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of

IOSF AttendeesThe purpose of the IOSF was to provide a tribally-driven opportunity for solution-orientated engagement of sovereign coastal Tribal nations from Washington, Oregon, and California on issues of regional ocean governance, indigenous ecological knowledge, and Coastal Marine Spatial Planning for the West Coast region. It was to lend towards collaboration across Tribes; to begin and/or continue the building of alliances and mechanisms for ongoing communication; and provide an occasion to learn from one another. The IOSF was attended by 54 total participants, including from West Coast Tribes (33), tribal organizations (10), federal agencies (3), state agencies (1), non-governmental organizations(5), and others (2). This included 43 representatives from 16 different Tribes or Tribal organizations.

Merv Child Executive Director Nanwakolas CouncilThe two-day event was full of presentations and panels from Tribal representatives and a breakout session of dialog. Speakers shared perspectives and experiences about marine planning, including current efforts by First Nations in British Columbia, a case study example of effective tribal engagement in a state process, using a cultural landscape approach, considerations when developing tribal mapping standards, and the West Coast Governor’s Alliance’s Regional Data Framework and West Coast Data Registry. We also heard about our responsibilities as stewards and the National Ocean Policy and tribal outreach. The IOSF concluded with breakout session questions and an opportunity for dialog around ““How to develop mapping standards that are culturally appropriate?” This dialog was distilled into eight (8) key summary themes that can informative to tribal marine spatial planning and regional ocean governance.

Indigenous Ocean Science Forum Summary Report (click to view .pdf)

Forum Key Themes

1) The recognition of our responsibilities as stewards, our connection to place, our cultural identity and spirituality, and our inherent right to continue to rely upon the ocean cannot be ignored or understated in any tribal, federal, regional, state, or other marine planning process.

2) There is an interest in using tribally-driven marine spatial planning as one tool for asserting tribal rights, uses, and stewardship within the marine environment.

3) There is a need for each Tribe build capacity in marine resource management, which directly relates to funding and staffing. The significance, immediacy, specific needs, and to which degree varies by Tribe.

4) Tribal capacity-building also relates to a need for various types and sources of data that ideally allow for interoperability. This data may include that which is generated by Tribes and that which is collected by some other credible source.

5) Data must be gathered with the highest concern for confidentiality. Towards this end, comprehensive traditional knowledge policies, methods of data aggregation and coding, and other means to protect any information considered sensitive must be explored and rigorously applied.

6) There should be a holistic approach to marine management that includes an ecosystem based management approach that includes humans as a part of that ecosystem and is based/inuenced on indigenous traditional protocol and/or laws.

7) There is value for Tribal leadership and engagement in federal, regional, state, and local marine planning processes in advancing the interests of the participating Tribe. It is also important that these other processes have clear methods to engage Tribes as sovereign nations with unique rights and responsibilities.

8) There is interest for continued dialog and collaboration among many coastal Tribes in a more formal and consistent manner, such as a West Coast Indigenous Ocean Council.

Forum Presentations (Presentations are provided by the presenters and are in .pdf format)

Cultural Landscape Approach to Marine Planning and Cultural Resources Panel

-Characterizing Tribal Cultural Landscapes for Resource Preservation & Protection. Roberta Cordero, Conflict Management.

-Makah Cultural Resources. Janine Ledford THPO & Executive Director Makah Cultural Resources Center, Makah Nation.

-Grand Ronde North Coast Cultural Landscape Study. Eirik Thorsgard, THPO & Cultural Protection Manager, Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde.

-Characterizing Tribal Cultural Landscapes. Robert McConnell, THPO, Rosie Clayburn, Cultural Resource Manager, Yurok Tribe.

-The National Ocean Policy West Coast Tribes and Regional Marine Planning. Jacque Hostler-Carmeisan, CEO Trinidad Rancheria & Tribal Representative Governance Coordinating Committee, National Ocean Policy.

-Marine Planning by the Nanwakolas Council. Merv Child, Executive Director, Scott Harris Marine Planner, Nanwakolas Council B.C. Canada.

-Regional Data Framework and the West Coast Data Registry. Rachel Rodriguez, GIS Coordinator, Yurok Tribe; Tim Welch, Senior Software Manager Ecotrust Marine Consulting Initiative.

-Developing Data and Mapping Standards that are Culturally Appropriate and Inform CMSP. Suntayea Steinruck THPO, Smith River Rancheria; Brian Anspach, GIS Analyst, Smith River Rancheria.

-Effective Tribal Engagement in a State Marine Planning Process. Megan Rocha, Smith River Rancheria Consultant.

Next Phase

Six to nine Tribes in California, Oregon, and Washington will be identified to participate in a Tribal Marine Data Standards Committee. Each Tribe’s geospatial capacity and needs will be assessed and the Committee will collectively develop a framework for collecting, analyzing, and ensuring interoperability of geospatial data and standards, while also ensuring the protection of culturally sensitive information. The purpose is to develop a tribally driven geospatial framework that will ensure confidentiality of sensitive information, as well as efficiency, standardization, and interoperability with tribal, regional and national data tools.

Facilitating Coordination of West Coast Tribes for Effective
Ocean Regional Governance and CMSP


As with coastal Tribes across the West Coast, we as Tolowa Dee-ni’ have always relied on the ocean since time immemorial and marine resources are integral to our lifeways. The ability to continue to practice these marine subsistence, ceremonial, and customary uses is inherent to us. With these practices comes a responsibility to assure the health and vitality of this rich environment and resources for future generations of the Tolowa Dee-ni’. The need to engage Tribes as sovereign nations in ocean governance cannot be understated. Neither can the rich indigenous ecological knowledge, our inherent responsibility of stewardship, and the inextricable link to marine ecosystems that permeates our lifeways. The proposed project seeks to provide a tribally-driven approach to ensure this is reflected in regional ocean governance



National Ocean Policy

West Coast Governors

Coastal Marine Spatial Planning

This report is being facilitated by Smith River Rancheria and is funded in part through a federal grant from the Regional Ocean Partnership Funding Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Department of Commerce.

The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Commerce, or NOAA.

Smith River Rancheria

National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationScreen shot 2013-06-17 at 7.11.35 AM


Megan Rocha:
Project Manager

Briannon Fraley:
Self-Governance Director

Brian Anspach:

GIS Analyst