Collaborative Research and Co-Learning

Integrating Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) Ecological Knowledge and Spirituality to Revitalize a Fragmented Land


  • Jeremy Spoon Portland State University
  • Richard Arnold Pahrump Paiute Tribe



ecological knowledge, place-based spirituality, collaborative research, Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute), Great Basin


We discuss linked Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) ecological knowledge and place-based spirituality related to federal lands in the southern Great Basin, USA. Nuwuvi or ‘the people’ are Numic speakers who consider this area to be their ancestral homeland and a close relative since the time when the world was new. The current land holdings of these six federally and one non-federally recognized Native American nations are a fraction of the pre-contact period. The ancestral territory was fragmented and knowledge transmission hindered by gradual encroachment by settlers, reorganization onto reservations, land annexation by federal agencies, relocation to government boarding schools barring indigenous languages, and more. We present two applied interpretive and resource management projects aimed at revitalizing Nuwuvi relationships with their ancestral territory currently governed by several federal agencies. Our framework considers co-learning among indigenous peoples, federal land managers, and the general public to be vital to the revitalization process. Co-learning occurs in these projects by utilizing collaborative ethnographic methods in conducting research, integrating a variety of perspectives, creating opportunities for intergenerational knowledge transmission and interactions with ancestral lands, and enhancing government-to-government consultation and public education.

Author Biographies

Jeremy Spoon, Portland State University

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Portland State University.

Richard Arnold, Pahrump Paiute Tribe

Chariperson, Pahrump Paiute Tribe.


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How to Cite

Spoon, J., & Arnold, R. (2013). Collaborative Research and Co-Learning: Integrating Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) Ecological Knowledge and Spirituality to Revitalize a Fragmented Land. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 6(4), 477–500.