Deniss is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Group in Ecology at UC Davis. The purpose of her dissertation is to find strategies for California Native communities and their collaborators to create governance and collaborative mechanisms that support Tribal self-determination and governance. Using qualitative methods and community-based research Deniss’ work centers the stories and narratives of cultural fire practitioners in California. Her vision is to work on creating a future that centers the wisdom of Indigenous people, not just as marginally relevant but as central to environmental decision making. She believes that just as people are an essential part of the environment; decolonization, reparations, and justice are essential to a just climate future. She aims to continue work that informs both settler governments and tribal governments on best strategies towards solving the climate crisis in a way that uplifts Tribal sovereignty, ensures justice for communities of color, and builds governance, culture and decision-making based on values of reciprocity, responsibility, and seven generation thinking.
MORE ABOUT DENISS
Deniss is a Tutunaku and Mexica scholar. As an immigrant to the U.S., she is excited to be able to give back to the indigenous communities that welcomed her and her family when she was a child. She also looks forward to addressing some of the problems she noticed growing up in the forests of Northern California, including catastrophic fire, tribal food insecurity, and degradation of natural resources.
DISSERTATION GRANT AWARDEE — SPRING 2022
Knowledge and Power Sharing in Indigenous Natural Resource Collaborations in California
Wildfire in California continues to be an ongoing environmental crisis, Indigenous communities in California hold important expertise through their deep knowledge of landscapes and cultural burning practices. Focusing on Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty, this dissertation aims to understand best practices in policy and collaboration by engaging the experiences of cultural fire practitioners and their collaborators throughout the state. Cultural fire is an essential practice for the health of Indigenous communities, equitable policies and collaboration practices ensure that this knowledge is engaged respectfully.
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