The Politics Of Tek In Oil And Gas: Knowledge (re)constructions And Assimilation
Indigenous Knowledge, now known by some as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), has informed Indigenous ways of life since time immemorial. Relatively recently, it has become of interest to dominant, settler society in Canada. The way in which I situate this research aims to examine TEK studies’ institutional processes, lived experiences of those processes, and finally how and why TEK is being collected and used for natural resource management in recognizing Indigenous Knowledge and reconciling a hegemonic relationship. The importance of this research is evident not only due to an increasing interest in TEK by dominant society, but also in terms of what it represents to Indigenous peoples versus how it is being defined, collected, and constructed by settler colonial state institutions to facilitate capital gain through resource exploitation. Through a socio-historical and contemporary analysis of colonization in Western Canada and the role oil and gas plays in the culture of liberal capitalism and knowledge development, TEK can be unpacked and understood in the context of settler colonial relations and structures. The methodologies employed for this research include a review of relevant literature as well as interviews with individuals who have experience contributing and collecting TEK for oil and gas development. This research suggests that TEK is inadequately understood and collected by industry and state institutions, used to appease regulatory requirements, avoiding legal battles with Indigenous communities through what industry and government understands as ‘regulatory certainty’. In this way, the state has failed in attempts to recognize Indigenous Knowledge systems and continues to oppress, manipulate, and exploit Indigenous peoples and lands.