Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Biological Sciences


Nancy A. Auer


Over the past 40 years global recognition has occurred for indigenous groups to be represented and have input in how natural resources are managed. This has largely occurred because of how management decisions have consequences to indigenous groups that reach beyond natural resource issues but into cultural, spiritual, social and political elements including sovereignty, legitimacy, justice, equity and empowerment and using indigenous paradigms to meet indigenous needs. In the United States numerous legal agreements have been reached that pair state and tribal agencies into co-management. This project concerns a recent co-management agreement between the State of Michigan and five Native American tribes where each has specific rights and responsibilities for fishery management. Using interview data collected from state and tribal participants and quantitative data from respective fishery agency work plans this Dissertation explores the co-management relationship, how well it is functioning, differences and similarities in participant values, worldviews, and perspectives, priorities for fishery biological assessment and restoration priorities and what the hopes for their co-management relationship. We found there was little understanding between state and tribal participants regarding how they understood each other's priorities for fishery management or the biological assessments and restoration activities they identified should occur. State and tribal participants viewed the fishery resource and the value of science in management differently through unique knowledge systems (Western scientific and indigenous). These knowledge systems likely accounted for the difference we found in how the agencies prioritized biological assessments and restoration activities. The state participants often described broad scale assessments and activities as a priority while tribal participants often described those that occurred near tribal reservations, benefit native species, and promoted treaty protected harvest rights. Participants identified barriers towards successful co-management and they stemmed from legal negotiations and a history of conflict that had hindered personal and professional relationships amongst the agencies. However, even with these barriers participants recognized the value of collaborating for fishery management and proposed how they believed an ideal relationship would and could function. We propose strategies that could assist the groups in realizing a successful co-management institution.