Indigenous Storytelling, Cherokee Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and Place-Based Education


  • Rosemary A. Kinch Western Carolina University
  • Andrew J. Bobilya Western Carolina University
  • Brad Daniel Western Carolina University
  • Sara Duncan Western Carolina University



narrative inquiry, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, ecological literacy, outdoor environment


Indigenous storytelling is a transaction between narrators and audiences that can be expressed through Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). TEK narratives, such as those of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), can demonstrate ecological literacy by empowering audiences to co-create their engagement with the local environment of that Indigenous society and its TEK. Place-based education integrates such experiential relationships with ecological systems into progressive learning and holistic well-being. TEK stories can describe how those interactions promote inclusive sustainability with local places prioritized by place-based education. To date, no known research has investigated the integration of Cherokee TEK narratives with place-based curricula for middle school students. This study explored middle school student’s interpretations of a collaborative experience that integrated place-based education, EBCI TEK narratives, and the local environment. As participants reflected on their experience, three major themes emerged through narrative inquiry analysis: cultural literacy, well-being, and respecting nature.

Author Biography

Andrew J. Bobilya, Western Carolina University

Professor and Program Director of Experiential and Outdoor Education at Western Carolina University






Coalition for Education in the Outdoors Special Issue 2022