Native Americans are America’s first environmental scientists. Early American settlers documented the pristine condition of the natural environments they first encountered in the Pacific Northwest. They discovered landscapes maintained for thousands of years in a sustainable manner by Native peoples, whose commitment to sustainability within their ancestral homelands was driven by a deep respect for the land and a desire for future generations to harvest indefinitely in abundance. However, over the past two centuries, unprecedented environmental and climate issues have impacted our region’s ecosystem and watershed health.
Native Americans are historically known as “the caretakers of the land.” However, in the Portland environmental community, there is a deficiency in Native American employment. This means that:
- The environmental workforce and projects are deficient in Native American perspectives on land management, ecosystems, and traditional knowledge and values, and
- Native Americans are disproportionally underrepresented in the environmental workforce.
Portland’s natural areas include wetlands, oak and madrone savannas and woodlands, and Douglas fir forests and prairies which are of particular interest as reserves for the species we target. With our unique perspective and approach, we offer environmental services that incorporate physical (air, water, land), ecological (flora and fauna), and socio-economic (including cultural) environmental domains. We direct our efforts to the protection and restoration of Native First Foods, cultural/ traditional species, threatened and endangered species, and management of noxious and invasive species without pesticide or herbicide application.
Understanding interconnectivity generates an even greater awareness of species that provide diversity and value to the environment, including migratory, raptor, and seabird species, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, aquatic mammals (i.e. river otters and beavers), fish and invertebrates.
Each species has a role in the ecosystem and our being mindful of those values generates additional challenges in our efforts. Therefore, the outcomes are significantly more meaningful than conventional project methods. We focus on long-term success, seven generations into the future, which is a fairly exclusive mindset in the Portland environmental service arena.
Wisdom Workforce was accepted as a contractor for Portland Metro, which provides our firm with environmental assessment and restoration contract opportunities. Funding for our contracts are part of a 5-year local option levy passed in 2013 designed to help provide maintenance and improvements of regional parks and natural areas, including increasing Native plant populations and controlling invasive species.
We also serve diverse environmental organizations and government agencies in the greater Portland area. Our customer base and partnerships extend to public agencies, educational institutions, environmental organizations, and sub-contracts with other natural habitat contractors who desire to incorporate the indigenous perspective.