Water-Womb-Land Cosmologic: Protocols for Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


As the granddaughter of Kickapoo, Comanche, and Macehual peoples who migrated throughout the present-day United States and Mexico, I am most concerned with what happens as our traditional ecological knowledge changes when it is taken out of the spaces and relationships over time that we have developed with our lands, our waters, our medicines. I raise questions regarding cultural appropriation and the consequences that emerge when Indigenous knowledge becomes generalizable knowledge. Some of the key questions explored in this article include the following: What relationships surround the knowledge of the Original Peoples? Why is it that when traditional knowledge is taken out of its original relations newcomers learn the plant knowledge and then ask, "What money can I make from this knowledge?" How can we factor in the realities of colonization that result in the original peoples of a place becoming disconnected from traditional knowledge? To situate this discussion, I explore water knowledge from my perspective as a traditional birth attendant and traditional herbalist and an Indigenous scholar who teaches courses on Indigenous medicine. I discuss how the one signifier of water can have multiple existences, meanings, and forms. In contrast to deep knowledge that has been carried across time by Indigenous peoples, I call into question knowledge that is based on profit rather than on seeking a deep relationship with the environment that allows balanced relationships with the natural world - and the knowledge that those relationships create - to continue. Discussion also focuses on some key values and recommended protocols for traditional knowledge exchange, including (a) Acknowledgement, (b) Accountability, (c) Accessibility and Affordability, (d) Relatedness, and (e) Reciprocity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-90
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Indigenous medicine
  • Traditional ecological knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Water-Womb-Land Cosmologic: Protocols for Traditional Ecological Knowledge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this