History & Accomplishments

What is the IPRN?

The Indigenous People's Restoration Network (IPRN) is a Working Group of the Society for Ecological Restoration International. It was established in 1995, at SER International’s annual conference, which was held in Seattle,Washington. The operating assumption of the IPRN is that indigenous peoples have developed, nurtured and passed down from generation to generation a tradition that integrates spirit, culture, and nature. While this tradition has been badly fragmented by modern industrial civilization, it persists to some degree in most indigenous communities, and has been maintained largely intact in remote places scattered throughout the world.

Leaders of the IPRN work closely with grassroots community activists and ecological restorationists to promote the appropriate uses of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) as a guiding principle in restoration. The Working Group has conducted training workshops, provided technical assistance, and educated the field about TEK. The IPRN has also been active in helping to procure technical and legal assistance to indigenous communities involved in restoration, fostering networking opportunities among communities so that they can share TEK with one another and with the rest of the world. 

In the last decade, the IPRN has evolved into an important catalyst for developing and channeling resources and information to indigenous communities who are trying to restore and rehabilitate their lands. In the process, the wider membership of SER International has benefited from learning about and integrating TEK with Western science. SER has a deep and abiding commitment to bring TEK into the mainstream knowledge-base of the field of ecological restoration, advancing both ecological and cultural restoration on our planet.


IPRN Objectives

The IPRN has two related goals: to use the tools of ecological restoration to enhance the survival of indigenous peoples and cultures, and to use the organizational resources of SER International to support indigenous NGOs that do work in ecological and cultural restoration. The benefit to the greater environmental and scientific community is the incorporation of TEK into emerging models of ecological restoration and ecosystem management which advances the inclusion of indigenous people as co-managers on public lands.  The transfer of TEK to the greater community is ethically accomplished through the recognition of intellectual property rights of the indigenous people who are the source of TEK.

The IPRN recognizes the intrinsic value of local knowledge and leadership in solving environmental problems or implementing restoration, works to provide resources to tribal communities involved in ecological and cultural restoration. Some of the resources include training and technical assistance, establishing communication networks, granting travel allowances and developing forums in which indigenous peoples from around the world can share their ideas, theories, practices and technologies. The IPRN maintains this website and virtual network linking scattered indigenous communities and individuals to help them maximize their resources and energy to coordinate their restoration efforts.


IPRN Accomplishments

  • Ensured that all SER annual conferences include indigenous presenters and papers.
  • Worked with Native and non-Native scholars and activists to bring indigenous presenters to the annual meetings of the Ecological Society of America (ESA); organized seven TEK symposia at meetings in Madison, WI, Tucson, AZ, Savanna, GA, and Portland, OR; established a Long-Term Study Section on TEK approved by the ESA Board.
  • Organized, with Native volunteers, a UNEP meeting at the San Xavier Reservation near Tucson, AZ in 1996 entitled “Human Values of Biodiversity” from the perspective of indigenous people of North America (Canada, U.S.,Hawaii, Mexico, and Guatemala). It was one of six global meetings funded by UNEP that year. IPRN transcribed the oral presentations that will form part of the basis for a book that Don Falk and Dennis Martinez are editing on indigenous restoration projects for the Island Press/SER book series on ecological restoration.
  • IPRN Chair Dennis Martinez was invited as a representative of IPRN to join the Arizona tribal delegation to the 7th Forest Congress in Washington, DCin February 1996, to participate in this milestone conference of 1,500 people.  Worked to ensure that tribal concerns were reflected in the conference and final report.
  • The IPRN helped fund the attendance of three Indian women basket weavers from the California Indian Basket-weavers Association to SER’s 1999 annual conference inLiverpool, England where they met with Welsh and English traditional weavers and wicker-makers.
  • Organized six forest restoration training workshops in the U.S and Canada in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 for Native and non-Native forest workers (including Latino workers) -- training over 140 persons in restoration forestry and First Nations’ historical forest management practices and cultural landscapes. The U.S. workshops were done partly with funding grants from the Alliance of Forest Workers and Harvesters and, in Canada, in concert with Herb Hammond’s Silva Forest Foundation and 15 native attendees on the theme of “Eco-cultural Restoration."
  • Will host the Earth in Transition gathering to be held in Zaragoza, Spain on September 13, 2005 -- an historic one-day gathering of indigenous experts from around the world to discuss ideas and share expertise on how TEK can address global climate change -- the day before SER International's three-day World Conference on Ecological Restoration (September 14-17). For more information on Earth in Transition, click here


Dennis Martinez is 63 years old and is of O’odham\Chicano\Anglo heritage. His academic background is in the history and philosophy of science. He is also trained in Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and is chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network (IPRN), a working group of the Society for Ecological Restoration International (SER-I) and is co-director (with Agnes pilgrim of Siletz Confederated Tribes) of the Takelma Intertribal Project (TIP) which brought back the Salmon Homecoming Ceremony after an absence of 150 years. 

He is a former SER-I Board member and Science and Policy chair and co-chair (with Eric Higgs), where he worked on an internationally acceptable definition of “ecological restoration”. He has worked 35 years in eco-cultural restoration specializing in tribal lands and cultural issues. He is a recipient of SER-I’s John Rieger service award; two fellowship financial awards from the Collective Heritage Institute (Bioneers); was a finalist in Ecotrust’s Buffett Award for outstanding Indian conservation leadership in northwestern North America; and is noted in the Who’s Who of American Environmental Leaders.

He is currently working as a representative of TIP with a coalition of environmental, government, and industry groups in the Applegate Adaptive Management Area of southwest Oregon on a 50,000 acre experimental project designed to test different philosophies of integrated fuels reduction\ecological restoration\timber harvesting, including a large Native American Demonstration Area. He is also beginning work with the Klamath Watershed Alliance in northwestern California, a coalition of tribes and environmentalists whose mission is to use TEK and Western Science in restoring the Klamath River fisheries and upland ecosystems within the greater middle and lower Klamath Drainage.



The following are some select articles that Dennis Martinez has published over the years: