USDA Gives Karuk Tribe (and UC Berkeley) 1.2 Million Grant

mushroom and Karuk fishing w

Compilation of images from Karuk UC Berkeley website.

Press release from Karuk Tribe:

As Californians face an expanded wildfire season, continuing drought, and other harbingers of climate change, cultural practitioners and researchers at the Karuk Tribe are building on a decade-long partnership with UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources and USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station to learn more about stewarding native food plants in fluctuating environmental conditions. The Karuk Tribe and UC Berkeley have been awarded a $1.2 million USDA grant for field research, new digital data analysis tools, and community skill-building aimed to increase resilience of the abundant cultural food and other plant resources – and the Tribal people whose food security and health depend on them.

Lisa Hillman, Program Manager of the Karuk Tribe’s Píkyav Field Institute and Jennifer Sowerwine, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley and co-founder of the Karuk-UC Berkeley Collaborative, will co-lead the xúus nu’éethti – we are caring for it research project.

“We are delighted to continue our connection with UC Berkeley through this new project,” said Lisa Hillman. “Through our past collaboration on Tribal food security, we strengthened a network of Tribal folks knowledgeable in identifying, monitoring, harvesting, managing for and preparing the traditional foods that sustain us physically and culturally. With this new project, we aim to integrate variables such as climate change, plant pathogens and invasive species into our research and management equations, learning new skills and knowledge along the way and sharing those STEM skills with the next generation.”

UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Karuk Department of Natural Resources will support the project with postdoctoral researchers, botany, mapping and GIS specialists, and Tribal cultural practitioners and resource technicians. Dr. Frank Lake, Research Ecologist and Tribal Climate Change liaison at the US Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, will contribute to research and local outreach activities. The San Rafael-based Center for Digital Archaeology will help develop a new offline field recording system and online monitoring portal. “This project underscores the enormous successes we have had with these long-standing collaborative partners,” said Hillman.

Project activities include expanding the Tribe’s herbarium (a research archive of preserved cultural plants launched in 2016 with UC Berkeley support), developing digital tools to collect and store agroecological field data, and helping Tribal community members and youth learn how to analyze the results.

The research team will assess the condition of cultural agroecosystems including foods and fibers to understand how land use, land management, and climate variables have affected ecosystem resilience. Through planning designed to maximize community input, they will develop new tools to inform land management choices at the federal, state, tribal and community levels.

All project activities will take place in the Karuk Tribe’s Aboriginal Territory located in the mid Klamath River Basin, but results from the project will be useful to other Tribes and entities working toward sustainable management of cultural natural resources in an era of increasing climate variability. Findings will be shared nationwide through cooperative extension outreach services and publications.

The new project’s name, xúus nu’éethti – we are caring for it, reflects the Karuk Tribe’s continuing commitment to restore and enhance the co-inhabitants of its aboriginal territory whom they know to be their relations – plants, animals, fish, water, rocks and land. At the core of Karuk identity is the principle of reciprocity: one must first care for these relations in order to receive their gifts for future generations.

This work will be supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Resilient Agroecosystems in a Changing Climate Challenge Area, grant no. 2018-68002-27916 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

For more information, visit the Karuk – UC Berkeley Collaborative website at



  • Drought and forest fires harbingers of climate change, bahahahaha that’s funny. Yeah, that’s what’s causing them. If there’s not enough rain….global warming. If there’s too much rain….global war, er, uh, I mean climate change. Too hot….climate change…..too cold…..climate change.

    Liberals love to pretend they give a shit. They pat themselves on the back for handing out someone else’s money to Indians and blacks; of course they donate nothing of their own money. They are uninterested in the data. Blacks and Indians are doing worse than just about anybody, financially and otherwise, in this country and it correlates nicely with handing out free shit. Instead, they SHOUT racist for saying Indian instead of Native American, all the while ignoring the massive failures of their pathetic, condescending policies.

    • 1. Carbon dioxide and methane are effective at preventing heat from the sun from being reemitted.

      2. Most government assistance per capita goes to white people in red states.

    • Evidence that liberals “donate nothing of their own money”? (It’s a rhetorical question because we all already know you just made that up.)

  • This is great!!

  • This is, hopefully, a truly good thing for the Tribal folk…but we all know the USDA is an arm of Monsanto, and they should be watched carefully, very carefully.

  • John w Erickson

    U know I have been picking mushrooms and fishing and hunting my whole life on the river and even eeling if poeple our poeple were really interested in these thing I would love to share what I know but money has never brought me any thing but trouble this grant will probably disapeer like all the other grants we get and know body will ever learn what is really important a out this world that’s crying for help do you poeple really care or is this just another way for u to line your pockets ????¿?????

    • In past years UC Berkeley and the tribes have done good work together and good people were hired to do important work that empowers river folk and especially kids to understand and appreciate and hopefully preserve their environment and the food sources in it. This benefits all of us.. at least those of us that eat food.. locally. Yeah some will get funneled off for silly stuff but generally this should be a good thing for the Karuk and the work they do.

  • Sure, blend on in. Do it like the white folk do. Deficit spending. Jumbo shrimp. Military intelligence.

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