How Culture Links Animals with Landscapes

TUE, JUL 27, 2021

In his book “Nourishment,” animal behaviorist Fred Provenza argues that there is a wisdom within the body that links flavor-feedback relationships at a cellular level with biochemically rich foods to meet the body’s nutritional and medicinal needs.

Provenza will join Mike Bruised Head (or in the Blackfoot language, Ninna Piksii), a member of the Blackfoot Blood Tribe Council and Chairman of the Kainai Ecological Protection Agency (KEPA).

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The two will reveal the role of culture in all creatures, wild and domestic animals and humans, and how many humans have broken our vital linkages with landscapes. Many studies show animals learn – in the womb, from mother’s milk, and from mother as a model – what and what not to eat, what’s nourishing and what’s not, what are medicinal plants, where to go to find foods and habitats that meet their needs seasonally across landscapes, what’s a predator and what’s not, and the importance of extended families and matrilines in wild and domestic herbivores. 

Together, Fred Provenza and Ninna Piiksii will explore different understandings of animals and what we can learn from them, our bodies, intuition, and long-held traditions about how to bring ourselves into balance with our needs and the world around us.

+ BIO: Ninna Piksii

Mike Bruised Head (or in the Blackfoot language, Ninna Piksii) serves on the Blood Tribe Council and acts as Chairman of the Kainai Ecological Protection Agency (KEPA). From 1994 – 2011, Mike was employed with the Kainai Board of Education as a high school teacher, vice principal, and high school principal. He has presented papers on Indigenous topics at several World Indigenous People’s Conferences on Education, including those in Australia, Hawaii, and Peru. Mike has participated in cultural and environment documentaries, as well as many Blackfoot ceremonies. He speaks fluent Blackfoot. Mike received his BA/B.ED from the University of Lethbridge and his Masters from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

+ BIO: Fred Provenza

Fred Provenza grew up in Salida, Colorado, working on a ranch while attending school in Wildlife Biology at Colorado State University. He is professor emeritus of Behavioral Ecology in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University where he worked for 35 years, directing an award-winning research group that pioneered an understanding of how learning influences foraging behavior and how behavior links soil, plants, herbivores, and humans.

He is one of the founders of BEHAVE, an international network of scientists, ranchers, farmers, and land managers committed to integrating behavioral principles with local knowledge to enhance environmental, economic, and cultural values of rural and urban communities.

He is the author of three books, including Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us about Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom; Foraging Behavior: Managing to Survive in a World of Change; and The Art & Science of Shepherding: Tapping the Wisdom of French Herders (co-author with Michel Meuret). He has published over 300 research papers in a wide variety of scientific journals. He has been an invited speaker at over 500 conferences.

The many awards he received for research, teaching, and mentoring are the creativity that flowed from warm professional and personal relationships with over 75 graduate students, post-doctoral students, visiting scientists, and colleagues during the past 45 years.

Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
Life Saves the Planet