U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
|Partners in Conservation Awards Program|
Local Youth Learn From Nature’s Garden
Long before European settlers arrived, the Ute Indian Tribe left their mark upon the land in Mesa County, Colorado.
Although this land is public land today, the traditions of the Utes remain a part of the landscape. A program called the “Ute Learning Garden” has brought these traditions back to life.
The Ute Learning Garden developed out of the Ute Ethnobotany Project that began in 2006. In 2008, the partners established a physical home for the project in Grand Junction, Colorado, the heart of the Ute Tribe’s traditional homeland.
The garden connects Native American youth and elders to the traditions of their ancestors. Participants engage in planting, irrigating, and harvesting traditional plants. The project engages Native American youth with traditional cultural practices through the study of ethnobotany, which is the plant lore and agricultural customs of a people. They also learn the important role of plants in food, medicine, and technical science.
Students from both the Ute Tribe and a local fourth grade class planted the garden in 2009. More than 800 students from the Ute Tribe and county school system have been trained in resource management and plant identification through the garden.
The program identified and recorded almost 100 species of significance. It also contributed to more informed agency decision making.
The Ute Learning Garden is an educational project developed through a partnership with the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, Utah; the Bureau of Land Management (BLM); the Colorado Master Gardener and Native Plant Master Programs; and Colorado State University Extension, Grand Junction. Long-term preservation of this land that was once the homeland of the Ute Indian Tribe is a goal shared by both the BLM and the Ute Tribe.
BLM-Colorado (Aline LaForge, Archaeologist, Grand Junction Field Office) nominated this program for the Secretary’s Partners in Conservation Awards. The Department will announce those selected for formal recognition October 18.
The Interior Department’s Partners in Conservation Awards Program recognizes partnerships that promote conservation, protect natural and cultural resources, use innovative approaches for resource management, and engage youth and diverse entities in accomplishing the Interior Department’s mission.