Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoède K’è: Boots on the Ground

Environmental Monitoring, Traditional Knowledge, Health and Wellness, Language and Culture

2019 season update: Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoède K’è (Boots on the Ground) – this year’s Bathurst caribou monitoring camp ran from July 9 - Sept 9, 2019 at Contwoyto Lake, NWT/NU. All 4 Tłı̨chǫ communities were represented at camp. We are very pleased to report that everyone at camp worked safe and the teams were able to monitor the caribou and other animals for 9 full weeks this summer. This was an increase of 3 weeks in monitoring time from previous years. 

About the Project:

Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoède K’è: Boots on the Ground is a caribou monitoring program based on the traditional knowledge of the Indigenous elders and harvesters. Faced with challenges from the decline of the Bathurst caribou herd and a self-imposed ban on caribou hunting in 2015, the Tłı̨chǫ Government initiated Boots on the Ground (the program) to collect critical field knowledge of the Bathurst caribou herd and its habitat. It is a multi-year traditional knowledge monitoring program for the Bathurst caribou and monitor the conditions of Bathurst herd’s summer range by focusing on indicators: (1) caribou habitat and environment, (2) caribou, (3) predators, and (4) industrial disturbance. 

Ekwǫ̀ Nàxoède K’è comes from the Tłı̨chǫ language and refers to the movement of the caribou herd throughout the year, from the calving grounds to the forest and back again. It encompasses the whole life cycle of the caribou.

This program’s approach to caribou monitoring is based on the principle that local people who live on the land and rely on caribou for their daily subsistence are the people in the best position to know the current conditions of caribou and of the land. The program is based on the traditional knowledge (TK) of harvesters, and while utilizing interdisciplinary research techniques, it relies on the traditional ways of traveling, interacting with, and assessing the conditions of the land. The program's methodology, “Do as hunters do”, is based on the lifeways of hunters. From the elder's holistic concept “we watch everything”, the researchers identify and wait at specific na'oke (water crossings) and follow caribou herds by boat and on foot to identify traditional knowledge indicators of a healthy environment by assessing caribou and habitat conditions, impacts from predators, climate change and industrial activities. 


2019 Field Team:

  • Tyanna Steinwand, John Koadloak, Mercie Koadloak, Russell Drybones, Leon Ekendia, Robert Nitsiza, Roy Judas, Mike Simpson, John B. Zoe, Joe Lazare Zoe, Eva Mantla, Peter Huskey, Jimmy P Mantla, JJ Simpson, Nora Ekendia, Archie Zoe, Camilia Zoe Chocolate, Albina Nitsiza, Jasmine Blackduck and William Apples. Researchers were Petter Jacobsen, Camilia Zoe Chocolate and John Nishi.

2018 Field Team:

  • Joe Lazare Zoe, Russell Drybones, Jimmy Mantla, Petter Jacobsen, Roy Judas, Leon Ekendia, Tyanna Steinwand, Mercie Koadloak, John Franklin Koadloak.

2017 Field Team: 

  • Joe Lazare Zoe, Russell Drybones, Narcisse Rabesca, Petter Jacobsen, Roy Judas, Leon Ekendia, Tyanna Steinwand, Mercie Koadloak, John Franklin Koadloak.

2016 Field Team: 

  • Michel Louis Rabesca, Moise Rabesca, Sean Richardson, Archie Black, Petter Jacobsen, Domenico Santomauro, Leon Ekendia, Roy Judas, and Jorgen Bolt (Kugluktuk HTO).

Full Project Team:

  • Program Advisors: Joseph Judas, Joe Rabesca, Michel Louis Rabesca, Tammy Steinwand- Deschambeault, and John B. Zoe.
  • Research Team: Tyanna Steinwand, Domenico Santomauro, John Nishi and Petter Jacobsen.
  • GIS technician: Terrell Knapton-Pain and Michael Birlea
  • Communications advisors: Rachel MacNeill and Dawn Ostrem
  • Principal Investigator: Petter Jacobsen