Walking on two legs: a pathway of Indigenous restoration and reconciliation in fire-adapted landscapes

Dickson-Hoyle, S., et al. | Restoration Ecology | 2021 | Peer Reviewed
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| https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/rec.13566


Worldwide, Indigenous peoples are leading the revitalization of their/our cultures through the restoration of ecosystems in which they are embedded, including in response to increasing “megafires.” Concurrently, growing Indigenous-led movements are calling for governments to implement Indigenous rights, titles and treaties, and many settler-colonial governments are committing to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Yet, despite growing recognition that just and effective conservation is only possible through partnerships with, or led by, Indigenous peoples, decolonizing approaches to restoration have received insufficient attention. However, reconciliation will be incomplete without Indigenous-led restoration of Indigenous lands, knowledges, and cultures. In this article, we introduce the concept of “walking on two legs” to guide restoration scientists and practitioners in advancing the interconnected processes of Indigenous-led restoration and reconciliation in Indigenous territories. As an action-oriented framework articulated by Secwépemc Elder Ronald E. Ignace, “walking on two legs” seeks to bring Indigenous knowledges into balance with western scientific knowledge in service of upholding an Indigenous stewardship ethic that is embedded in Indigenous ways of relating to land and embodies principles of respect, reciprocity, and responsibility. Grounding this discussion in the context of fire-adapted ecosystems of western Canada and unceded and traditional Secwépemc territory, Secwepemcúl̓ecw, we argue that walking on two legs, along with principles of reconciliation, offers a pathway to uphold respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples, knowledges, and territories through Indigenous-led restoration.