Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version



Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2023


Copyright 2023, Shelby Serritella


Few instances of prior research into socio-ecological health have brought together both Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Western science, especially in Nebraska. This study attempts to fill this gap in Lancaster County, Nebraska by using “Two-Eyed Seeing”. This equitably combines both Indigenous Knowledge Systems (qualitative data), obtained through oral interviews with Indigenous community members, and Western science (quantitative data), obtained through USGS, UNL, and U.S. Drought Monitor databases, to assess ecosystem health. Changes to the Salt Creek Basin were collected and analyzed through this Two-Eyed Seeing framework. Results found that there are high levels of consensus between both knowledge systems regarding decreases in water quality and increases in nutrient/pesticide levels in Salt Creek. Additionally, the two sets help to fill in the gaps of the other by providing information about indicators that the other cannot. Indigenous Knowledge alone provided information about the presence of native plants and wildlife, as well as the presence of Indigenous Peoples and their usage of the ecosystem for its pre-colonized purposes. Western science alone provided information about precipitation, discharge, and gage height amounts, as well as changes in the air and water temperatures. Overall, this Two-Eyed Seeing approach can lead to a more comprehensive and accurate environmental assessment of health and long-term change in the Salt Creek basin.