Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Anthropology



Major Advisor

Kathryn Demps, Ph.D.


John P. Ziker Ph.D.


Pei-Lin Yu, Ph.D.


The relationship between chronic disease and traditional knowledge is little understood within indigenous populations of North America. I hypothesize that individuals with higher levels of local ecological knowledge (LEK) will observe lower frequencies of chronic disease and better health outcomes. Health data will be compared to LEK within a subsample (n=31) of individuals residing within the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Reservation in Nevada and Oregon. Individual level health data on diabetes mellitus (type 2), pre-diabetes, BMI, chronic heart disease, and hypertension is measured directly by the investigator or self-reported. LEK level data is taken from expert interviews, subject interviews, surveys, and direct observation. LEK data is comprised of species identification, acquisition, and utilization. LEK data regards an individual’s level of species knowledge, identification, utilization, acquisition, and preparation of wild floral and faunal species incorporated within the diet and medicinal remedies. The results show that individuals with higher levels of LEK display lower occurrence of the chronic diseases stated previously and their predictors. These results have implications that the promotion of traditional culture within indigenous societies alleviates the negative health effects of chronic disease. It can further be argued that the adaptive strategies associated with LEK provide a prescriptive analog for health behaviors within greater American society.