In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Indigenous and Western Environmental Resource Management:A Learning Experience with the Laitu Khyeng Indigenous Community in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Bangladesh
  • Ranjan Datta (bio) and Jebunnessa Chapola (bio)

WE EXPLORE THE WAYS Indigenous identity and practice were framed in relation to the politics of environmental resource management.1 We have examined two main questions: (1) How do Indigenous people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in Bangladesh view environmental resource management in relation to their own knowledge and practices? (2) And to what degree were governmental and transnational policies constructed within the contested social and ecological landscapes of the CHT? We applied interdisciplinary approaches in order to understand management in its relation to conceptions and practices, such as how to efficiently address Indigenous ecological, economic, and social challenges to those of us who have invoked this environmental resource management term. In accordance with the research questions specified above, this study was guided by the critical concerns of identifying problems of existing environmental management. Our focus related to everyday practices and traditional experiences within Indigenous regions. This study followed a relational research framing with an emphasis on the researcher's relational accountability and obligations to the study participants. We concluded by advocating for the Indigenous practice-based management for its effectiveness in guiding policy makers and researchers to develop robust governance for Indigenous knowledge integration in forest and land management.

The level of engagement in environmental management by Indigenous people has strengthened internationally. With an increase in awareness of their rights, their interests, and the value of their Indigenous sustainability, Indigenous people are appealing to offer their insights (Berkes 2004; Escobar 2010; Nadasdy 2011, 2003; Nakanura 2008). Considering environmental management as a component of complex social–ecological system dynamics, recent developments have identified that integrating traditional Indigenous practices, in addition to Western science, can increase system attributes associated with sustainability (Berkes 2004; Folke 2004; Walker and Salt 2006; Chapin III et al. 2010). Studies (Datta 2015; Gupta 2011, 2009; Escobar 2010; [End Page 52] Nadasdy 2011) also recognize that the Western and Indigenous meanings of "management" have fundamentally different perspectives. These interpretations stem from different worldviews with differentiated philosophies, practices, and methods. In many Indigenous communities, Western and Indigenous understandings of management are ontologically contradictory due to differing worldviews. However, some studies recognize the importance of Indigenous knowledge in environmental management with respect to implementing concrete policies at a local level. Currently, Indigenous management knowledge and practices have become an invaluable element of the Western management process (Berkes 2004; Escobar 2008; Gupta 2011; Nadasdy 2011). Amplifying attention on Indigenous practice-based management can provide further holistic understanding, with the potential to provide benefits for both Western and Indigenous sustainable management practices (Reo 2011). Such a shift could reduce misunderstandings regarding Indigenous environmental resource management perspectives, and lead to valuable insights for society at large (Tuck and McKenzie 2015).

Throughout this article, we recognize that sustainable management has many dimensions and meanings to the Indigenous community. We explored meanings of management through participatory action research (PAR) with members of the Laitu Khyeng2 Indigenous community in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Bangladesh. This community, isolated at one time yet thriving in its own unique way, is now on the brink of extinction (Adnan and Dastidar 2011).3 Traditionally, the Laitu Khyeng took care when extracting environmental resources, prudent not to destroy the forest, as sustainability of their resources was necessary for their long-term survival in the area (Adnan 2004; Mohsin 2002; Roy 2000). However, according to Adnan (2004), Khyeng land-based rituals, practices, and traditional experiences, as well as the spiritually dominated sociopolitical structure, have been transforming in recent years. These changes, which have been reported in various research studies, are linked to government development projects and forest management policies. This can be interpreted as a part of new land-based processes introduced through the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries during European colonization (Adnan and Dastidar 2011; Mohsin 2002; Roy 2000). Despite the official end of colonization in 1947 across South Asia and in CHT Bangladesh, people have continued to experience threats to their land rights, culture, and spirituality by means of government land management, resettlement, displacement, development projects...


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pp. 52-80
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