Our Values

We seek to center Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in every project and work towards reconciliation while restoring balance to ecosystems and supporting Indigenous data sovereignty and leadership

Wise Ancestors is built on the belief that, in addition to the advanced biotechnologies associated with Western science, saving Earth’s species and ecosystems will require engaging with nature in ways that revitalize Indigenous science, knowledge and practices. We believe this because of the telling statistic that 80% of Earth’s remaining biodiversity is on land that is inhabited by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs).1 This is not a coincidence. These communities have been successfully stewarding land for millennia, acquiring and relying on knowledge and practices that are highly relevant for our planet today.

Wise Ancestors’ approach braids Western science technologies for conservation, such as genomic sequencing and biobanking, with Indigenous science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. In doing this, we provide a structure for Western and IPLC scientists, conservationists and community members to work together on biodiversity conservation in an innovative, fair, equitable and future-focused manner.


‍Wise Ancestors acknowledges the lands all over the world that were stolen from Indigenous peoples, and how past and present injustices are responsible for today’s lingering inequities. In our everyday lives and throughout the development of conservation projects, we are creating inclusive spaces. This was a journey initiated by active listening and learning and that continues through discussions where respect and collective work are central and diversity in culture and opinions valued. By centering Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) in every project, we work toward reconciliation while restoring balance to ecosystems and supporting Indigenous data sovereignty.

Wise Ancestors team members live, work and play on many lands and will travel to even more beautiful places to meet with, learn from and partner with Indigenous Peoples and Local communities. We are committed to learning about the history and places of the people we work with, engaging in IPLC-led conservation projects, and supporting benefits that meet the needs of the IPLC communities.


We recognize that different groups and communities use different terms to refer to similar concepts. The Wise Ancestors team is actively learning and welcomes input from Indigenous Peoples and local community members regarding the use of some terms.

Our goal: “Braiding biotechnology, Indigenous science, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge to conserve biodiversity” is the result of many discussions with our Board, our advisors, and Indigenous Peoples, and will likely evolve as we learn from our collaborators through each Conservation Challenge.

We decided to use “Indigenous science” and “Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)” to refer to concepts that are sometimes labeled differently: “Indigenous knowledge”, “Indigenous Local Knowledge” or “Traditional knowledge”. These terms are often used interchangeably to refer to knowledge and practices passed from generation to generation informed by cultural memories, gained over the centuries and adapted to the local culture and environment (source : Convention on Biological Diversity - Traditional Knowledge Information Portal). However, we recognize that “traditional” can sometimes be associated with static and historical concepts, failing to capture the contemporary and highly relevant knowledge held by IPLCs today. “Indigenous science” is not fully inclusive as we work with local communities that are not Indigenous communities, therefore, for inclusivity purposes, we will use different terms at different times.

“Braiding” is also a very intentional word. It reflects that Indigenous science, Traditional Ecological Knowledge and biotechnology are independent entities on their own and while they do not need each other to function, braiding these areas of expertise together creates a unified strand or approach that is even stronger than the individuals, an approach that we feel is needed to protect biodiversity in these unprecedented times.

We would be happy to hear what you think about this terminology and the meaning behind the words we use. And we do apologize if our line of thinking misses an essential component, historical association, or meaning behind a given word. Let us know through our contact page.

1. The Role of Indigenous Peoples in Biodiversity Conservation