From the Field: A Native Science Fellow Perspective

My Name is Lia J. Rattler (pictured second the the left above), I am a fellow at the Native Science Field Center at Blackfeet Community College and I have been a part of The Ksik Stakii Project for two years. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences with this project and with the many people that have helped it grow over the years. I have had many opportunities because of The Ksik Stakii Project.

What was your favorite experience?

Just being able to witness the beaver helping us make all of these connections culturally and scientifically. After all, that is the goal of being a Native Science Fellow! One of my top favorite moments was when we got to experience a blessing (ceremony) from an elder from Canada on the Connelly Ranch site on Willow Creek, where we were building beaver dam analogs.

What surprised you along the way?

With each experience you take part of, you get to learn. For example, we learned that pond levelers do not do well during our run-off season and that we need to maintain them a bit more than the beaver dam analogs after run-off. It also took me by surprise how many benefits there are to beaver mimicry, and that more people don’t want to be involved in the project. Beavers are natural engineers after all! Also, the fact that most people view beavers as nuisances when in all reality they are doing nothing but helping the land you live on and the land around you. We have to learn to live in harmony with the beavers.

Lia modeling mimic dams during the Ksik Stakii Project 2019 field season.

What did you learn from The Ksik Stakii Project?

I learned so many different things from this project and it will hold a special place in my heart because The Ksik Stakii Project helped me decide that I wanted to study Environmental Sciences/Hydrology, so I can continue to learn and grow to help our environments and communities.

We also learned how to collect our own natural material to make the beaver dam analogs/pond levelers. Along the way I learned so much about the benefits of beaver mimicry. A few examples are raising the ground water tables, helping vegetate the land, and bringing other wildlife to the area. There is so much more we can learn from this key stone mammal and The Ksik Stakii Project is just the beginning of it.

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