Spencer Greening

Study program:
PhD Archaeology
Current affiliation:
Simon Fraser University

Spencer Greening (archaeology, Simon Fraser University) is investigating how using Indigenous knowledge and languages in land stewardship can lead to more sustainable environmental management practices in Canada.


Al’algyax Laxyuubs Gitk’a’ata (The Territory of the Gitga’at Speaks): Language, Place-based Knowledge, and Environmental Stewardship in the Heart of Gitga’at Territory

Spencer’s Ph.D. research emphasizes the importance of Indigenous knowledge and stewardship of land in the context of colonial management practices and law. Specifically, it explores how the connections among Indigenous pedagogy, language, and the sharing of place-based knowledge are linked to heritage preservation, identity, and more sustainable environmental management. Spencer is analyzing one of the Cultural Keystone Places in his home territory, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, where his Elders were born and raised in a life of fluent Gitga’at culture, language, and ecological relationships. By working with their ancestral knowledge systems, he is able to highlight local Indigenous knowledgeand its vital role in academic scholarship, Canadian law and policy, and the promotion of environmental awareness. His research is also unique as it is led by his community and rooted in Indigenous research methodologies and frameworks. This ensures its contributions to cultural continuity, self-determination, Indigenous research, and decolonization.

Spencer Greening (La’goot) is from the Tsimshian community of the Gitga’at First Nation, and has worked professionally with his nation for several years. He has regularly engaged in government to government relations as an elected government representative and community spokesperson for the Gitga’at. He has also acted as a research coordinator where he managed several legal and cultural research projects for the Gitga’at working with Indigenous knowledge systems, Indigenous rights and title, and language revitalization.

Spencer holds a bachelor’s degree in First Nations/Indigenous Studies and an MA in Anthropology at the University of Northern British Columbia. He is currently a Ph.D. student at Simon Fraser University, where he is studying the relationship between Gitga’at Traditional Ecological Knowledge, language, and history in the context of Indigenous resource management. His broader research interests include Indigenous governance systems, cultural and political identities, and Indigenous oral histories. All of his work revolves around his deep connection to his home community, elders, territories, and the self-determination and decolonization of Indigenous peoples.

Spencer is actively engaged with cultural roles and work within the community of Hartley Bay and the greater Tsimshian Nation. He also works with the local school district, that serves several Tsimshian villages and the city of Prince Rupert, teaching Tsimshian language and culture, while working with the Sm’algyax language committee. Spencer’s personal connection to this work is very important, when he is not engaging with it professionally, he is spending as much time as he can on his traditional territory learning from his Elders.

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