Building a worldwide indigenous knowledge network

On each expedition on The Healing Journey, Jon Waterhouse uses canoes to travel along rivers, recording traditional knowledge from local people, and detailed scientific readings of water conditions and quality using cutting-edge technology. This summer, he’s working with indigenous leaders in South America to kick off a new project: The Network of Indigenous Knowledge.

This post first appeared on National Geographic’s Explorer’s Journal.

By Jon Waterhouse

We’re headed back down to South America to spend the next two weeks in remote Peru, visiting with the Machiuengan and Ashaninka people in the community of Timpia (12 04 50 S – 72 49 18 W) located on the Urabamba River. Our first visit to this vast and bio-diverse region was two years ago when we went into the Amazon to meet with these tribes and learn about their ever-changing environment. We made great friends while there and learned that these incredible people share many of our concerns for the environment and it’s future. “Something is wrong with the fish” is what we were initially told so we’re in to help them figure this out.

Our meeting with the Tribal Leadership and members from the area while there will help us lay the groundwork for the official kick-off of our NIK Project – the Network of Indigenous Knowledge, which we’ll have up and operational when we return to Peru in the fall. Creating an environmental network among the people of this region and the Alaska Native and Canadian First Nations people is the start of the global connection, and the true focus of The Healing Journey. This network will ultimately combine the collection of modern scientific environmental date with Indigenous knowledge from Indigenous societies around the globe, creating an accurate, informative and colorful picture of the condition of our planet.

The cultural exchange will be phenomenal and an integral part of this process and we are simply thrilled to be so close to actually connecting via satellite and other technologies these tribes who literally are worlds away from one another, yet who often share equally impactful environmental challenges.

Beginning on 23 May, you can go to our SPOT link to follow us on this latest Journey.

here in mid-June during the National Geographic Explorers’ Symposium on how things went in Peru and what the People of Timpia have on their minds. Also, become a part of this! Offer your suggestions, insight and ideas regarding our efforts in Peru! This is all about our connections!

Jon Waterhouse is the executive director of the Yukon River Inter-tribal Watershed Council and a 2012 honoree for the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award.