Introduction to Results and Narrative
This chapter presents the results of in-depth interviews on the subject of sustainability with thirteen respected Native leaders from within the bioregion defined by the Pacific Salmon Runs of North America (Salmon Nation). The chapter's opening paragraphs provide general orientation to the results as summarized in narrative form. Documentation of the results from the testimonial validity process is then presented, followed by the actual narrative summary.
I approached this project as a student seeking to learn. I listened carefully to what was shared with me, and this narrative summary is my best attempt to reflect back what I heard and learned through my own set of perceptual filters (see "Preface: Author's Perspective" above). Representing the depth and detail of each interview is impossible, so what the reader will find here reflects main themes of those interviews, particularly themes that were expressed across multiple interviews (each interview can be found in its entirety at www.nativeperspectives.net). There are no ideas included in this narrative that were not communicated by at least one of the interviewees. While each idea was not expressed by every participant, the decision was made to use a first person plural, or "we" voice as the most effective way to synthesize all perspectives into one unified narrative. Effort has been made to avoid suggestions of homogeneity among participants by acknowledging the diversity of participants (see "Who we are" below), and when thoughts did significantly differ on a particular topic to make that apparent to the reader. The "we" voice is found in other works with similar purposes (e.g., Gillis, Textor & Mitchell, 2006; Ladum, 2006), and is also consistent with the language frequently used by most of the participants when speaking from a place of identification with their community, indigenous peoples, and/or all of humanity. One participant did express reservations about the use of the "we" voice, which is discussed in "Testimonial Validity Survey Results" below (see also Appendix I and Appendix J).
By integrating the multiple perspectives of all participants into one narrative, the extensive topic of sustainability is more thoroughly addressed. Each community represented by the participating leaders faces similar yet unique challenges. Specific ideas and actions expressed in the narrative may be more or less relevant depending on the specific historical, ecological, political and legal contexts of each respective community. Hopefully, this narrative articulates something of relevance to all communities, directly represented or not.
This narrative is intended to serve as a contribution to the conversation on sustainability and to encourage a more extensive and inclusive dialogue around the long-term interests of all people. I remind the reader that I assume no authoritative voice on the subject of Native perspectives on sustainability. All readers are invited to be the judge of this narrative. The extent to which its content rings true, yields insight, and/or provides direction for each individual is the true measure of its validity.
The structure of the narrative results section begins with brief statements of the identities of the participating leaders ("Who We Are") and the communities with which they identify ("Our Communities"). This is followed by discussion around the use of the term "sustainability" and its meaning ("'Sustainability:' The word and concept"). Next is a vision statement illustrating core elements of the participants' hopeful vision of a sustainable future for their communities ("Our Vision"). As recommended by Levin (2000), the vision is composed in a present tense storytelling format to more effectively transport the reader's imagination to the desired future. The final element of the narrative is a summary of the kinds of actions and strategies identified by the participants as critical to achieving such a future ("How We Get There"). Throughout the narrative, endnotes are used to indicate which interviews provided the basis for the associated content. Where direct quotes are included, the first cited number corresponds to the interview directly quoted, and each following number references another interview where a very similar thought was shared. The endnote list appears immediately following the narrative. Prior to presentation of the narrative, the results of the testimonial validity survey are presented to inform the reader of the degree to which the participants themselves found the narrative to be an accurate representation of their perspectives.Testimonial Validity Results