Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Linda Silka

Second Committee Member

Gayle Zydlewski

Third Committee Member

Jessica Jansujwicz


Not only can community-university partnerships be vehicles for mobilizing community resources and affecting change, they also have high potential to produce useful, nuanced research and enable renewed visions of trust. I explore partnerships rooted in trust in the context of a community-university partnership between the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik and the University of Maine and its work through the Passamaquoddy-led StoryMaps Team. To accomplish this, I take a transdisciplinary approach to incorporate diverse perspectives on understanding critical and ethical approaches to engagement with Indigenous communities. The central focus among all three chapters is the need for Indigenous communities and institutions of higher education to learn together to meaningfully produce community resilience scholarship.

In Chapter 1, I explore community-university partnerships as social capital and emphasize the role of trust in community-university partnerships with Indigenous communities. Through a literature review that places scholarship in a culturally relevant context for Indigenous communities, I explored community-university partnerships and emphasized that with refreshed views of trust after learning and making mistakes together, community-university partnerships can build trust in collaborations across Western science (WS) and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). University partners can meaningfully share power with Indigenous communities by using Indigenous research methods (IRMs) in research projects.

Chapter 2 focuses on a collaborative research project that is useful, culturally appropriate, and ethical for the Passamaquoddy Tribe. I collaborated with the Sipayik Environmental Department, Wabanaki Youth in Science, and Maine Sea Grant to support the Indigenous storytelling work seeking to raise awareness of municipal water issues at Sipayik. We utilized StoryMaps, a digital storytelling software, to critically bring together TEK and WS and move toward overcoming histories of mistrust. This chapter presents an ethnography of my participant-observation of the StoryMaps Team, and because I joined the team with an open mind and commitment to lifting Indigenous voices, I found emergent themes and identified two critical strategies – trust through partnership and flexibility in the research project – that community-university partnerships with Indigenous communities may learn from. This chapter contributes to ongoing discussions of community-university partnerships with Indigenous communities by highlighting storytelling as a critical approach.

In Chapter 3, I recognize the Indigenous and Western significance of the fish communities in Western Passage and contribute to the current knowledge base that could help fisheries management and decision-making at both the state and tribal levels. We used recreational (WS) fisheries survey methods to build on past work in Western Passage and Gulf of Maine: jig and longline. I examined whether adding an additional gear type (longline) would provide a different perspective of the fish community than when using jig gear alone. Gear type differences did not influence conclusions about diversity across the survey sites sampled. This chapter concludes with considerations to further explore the utility of the added longline sampling. All data will be shared openly with tribal, state, and public partners.