The stories hold water: Learning and burning in North Fork Mono homelands

Jared Dahl Aldern, Ron W. Goode


This essay describes aspects of an eco-cultural restoration program and closely associated educational initiatives and negotiations between the North Fork Mono Tribe and United States governmental agencies. We base our educational approach in Indigenous narrative and land-based experience. We seek not to explain land and water but to help guide students, policymakers, and other learners to come to understand land and water. We consider land, water, plants, and animals as narrators and as sources of knowledge – as primary historical sources, texts that narrate settler colonial and Indigenous history and the physical and cultural changes that colonialism has wrought. As we argue, approaches that combine narratives with visits to the land are key methods in land based education. In addition to describing the theoretical foundations of our curriculum, the essay provides accounts of obstacles presented to us by state education authorities and of successful negotiations to appropriately include tribal knowledge in updates to the California State Water Plan and in agreements with the U.S. Forest Service regarding tribal jurisdiction


Land-based education; water; Indigenous narrative; Indigenous jurisdiction; forestry

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ISSN 1929-8692