Assessing the Impacts of Coal Mining on Hopi Land, Water and Farming Practices Through Merging Local Knowledge With Environmental ResearchEPA Grant Number: FP917470
Title: Assessing the Impacts of Coal Mining on Hopi Land, Water and Farming Practices Through Merging Local Knowledge With Environmental Research
Investigators: Johnson, Tai Elizabeth
Institution: University of Arizona
EPA Project Officer: Zambrana, Jose
Project Period: August 1, 2012 through July 31, 2015
Project Amount: $126,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2012) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Environmental History
This research explores how fossil fuel development affected local food systems and natural resources on the Hopi Indian Reservation. Employing a multidisciplinary approach that examines scientific data in conjunction with Hopi environmental knowledge, this project examines the local effects of coal and ground water mining on Hopi land use, water resources and agricultural biodiversity since 1970.
The study will combine community-based participatory methodology with archival research to assess environmental change over time. First, tribal, state, and federal records, and scientific studies of coal and ground water mining on the Hopi Indian Reservation will be examined. Then, interviews will be conducted with Hopi farmers, gardeners and natural resource specialists regarding changes in water resources, land use and agricultural biodiversity since 1970. This qualitative data will be compared and contrasted with the quantitative and historical data obtained through archival research to identify gaps and correlations between the lived experiences, field observations and local knowledge of Hopis and the technical information presented in scientific studies of mining activities.
This study hypothesizes that coal and ground water mining on the Hopi Indian Reservation adversely affected local food systems through the depletion of ground water, limiting the ability of farmers and gardeners to produce traditional crops dependent on these water resources. The analysis of formal scientific studies in conjunction with local ecological knowledge acquired through interviews will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the environmental, social and cultural implications of mining activities on the Hopi Indian Reservation.
Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection
This research demonstrates the importance of incorporating local ecological knowledge in environmental research. On a local level, the project will produce a usable archive of information on changes in water resources, crop diversity and agricultural practices since 1970 that can be utilized by the Hopi Tribe in the further development of water and food security initiatives. On national and global levels, this research has the potential to protect human and environmental health through the creation of a methodological model that utilizes local ecological knowledge, environmental history and formal scientific research to understand and address the environmental implications of fossil fuel development on local populations, food systems and water resources.