Pikyav Field Institute, Karuk Tribe
The Karuk Tribe’s newly launched Píkyav Field Institute provides Environmental Workforce Development, K-12 and Higher Education, Food Security and Digital Library Services in the Mid Klamath Region. Established under the Eco-Cultural Revitalization Branch of the Karuk Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources, the institute is named after the Karuk word píkyav, which means “fix it,” referring to the Tribe’s continuing efforts to restore the earth and its creatures to harmonious balance. True to our Department’s mission, the Píkyav Field Institute serves to “to protect, promote, and preserve the cultural/natural resources and ecological processes upon which the Karuk People depend. Natural Resources staff work in conjunction with agency personnel to ensure that the integrity of natural ecosystem processes and traditional values are incorporated into current and future management strategies within our area of influence.”
The Píkyav Field Institute is a holistic environmental education program that strives to affect needed opportunities for our underserved youth and underserved rural schools. Our primary beneficiaries are the 290 students, approx. 50% of which are Native American, attending small rural schools located along the Klamath and Salmon Rivers between Orleans in Humboldt County and Yreka in Siskiyou County. We believe that our ongoing efforts to revitalize our traditional ecological knowledge, practice, and belief systems will help improve our youth’s academic performance and college- and career-readiness by reconnecting – or enhancing – their connection to tribal heritage.
Over the past decade, we have been working with academic institutions and researchers to successfully integrate traditional ecological knowledge and western science into contemporary management practices. Piloted workshops, seminars and lessons have reinforced this Native science and the perpetuation of cultural heritage. A 5-year USDA-funded Klamath Basin Food Security Grant, led by UC Berkeley’s Dr. Jennifer Sowerwine, allowed the Tribe to develop key projects that were leveraged to secure the new grant award. Among these are the Tribe’s Nanu’ávaha (“our food”) K-12 Curriculum, a number of Native plant and school gardens, the Sípnuuk (“storage basket”) Digital Library, Archives and Museum, Native Foods Workshops, and Seasonal Youth Camps.
Project objectives include curriculum and cultural sensitivity trainings, further development of culturally-relevant California Common Core Standards-based curriculum, implementation of our Farm to School curriculum on the connection between Native food traditions and personal health, continued support for local garden initiatives and implementation of experiential learning activities grounded in traditional ecological knowledge.