Past Marine Projects

The Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation has always relied on the ocean for our lifeway since time immemorial and marine resources are integral to our lifeways. The ability to continue to practice these marine subsistence, ceremonial, and customary uses is inherent to us. With these practices comes a responsibility to assure the health and vitality of this rich environment and resources for future generations of the Tolowa Dee-ni'.

The need for the Tribe to engage as a sovereign nation in areas of ocean governance and tribal marine planning cannot be understated. Neither can the rich indigenous knowledge, our inherent responsibility of stewardship, the inextricable link to marine ecosystems that permeates our lifeways, our high quality science and research, and our ability to be good managers of our ancestral lands and waters. For the last six years, the Tribe has been building our capacity for ocean planning, governance and management and in 2012 we proudly launched a Marine Program.

California, Oregon, and Washington Coasts Composite Image

The following are some recent examples of our exciting work!

Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation Marine Planning

Marine planning can provide an opportunity to identify the vision, goals, objectives and spatially designed management objectives for the Tribe's marine area. This will provide the Tribal leadership, as well as programmatic and technical staff the necessary strategic direction to guide co-management within our ancestral marine waters. This plan will be the necessary guidance document to provide a basis for the Tribal leadership, as well as programmatic and technical staff in the Marine Program and related tribal programs (e.g. Natural Resources, Culture, Language, THPO, Self-Governance, Tribal Court), to continue to build the capacity of the Tribe to manage marine resources.

This marine planning process with the completion of a Marine Plan for the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation will commence in January 2016 and is scheduled to be completed by August 2017. Integral to this planning process will be the Tolowa Dee-ni' community, Tribal Council, Culture Committee, and the Fish and Game Committee, as well as programmatic and technical staff of the Marine Program, Natural Resources Department (GIS), Culture Department with THPO and Language, and Self-Governance Department.

The foundation of this planning process is based on work conducted by the Marine Program over the last two years. This has included the development of a Common Tribal Marine Planning Framework, which is an approach that was created with the intention that it could be used by Tribes across the West Coast. Read a Summary Handout (PDF) of this common tribal marine planning framework and structure.

Administration for Native Americans, Environmental Regulatory Enhancement Grant: Si~s-xa Lhee-wi; Si~s-xa Shu' Netlh-'ii~-ne (Ocean Balance: Ocean Stewards)

One of only three awarded in the nation this year, the Tribe successfully secured the ANA ERE grant for Fiscal Year 2015 through Fiscal Year 2018. The purpose of the grant is, "to restore Tolowa Dee-ni' marine stewardship for six keystone species and build the Marine Program capacity as a means to enhance local marine ecosystems and economies, provide for a culturally-based framework for co-management and ensure the promulgation of our culture." 

This project will include analytical and tribal community scientific research, in addition to the development of a culture-based Marine Customary Harvest Code and enforcement process. This project will continue to build the Tribe's Marine Program capacity and efforts in managing our resources within ancestral waters.

Smelt Sands State ParkNorth Coast MPA Baseline Monitoring Projects

The Tribe is collaborating on three projects to establish benchmarks for measuring the performance of recently established marine protected areas on the California north coast. California Sea Grant helps administer the North Coast MPA Baseline Program collaboratively with the MPA Monitoring Enterprise (a program of the California Ocean Science Trust), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Ocean Protection Council (which provides funding for the projects).

Project A: Baseline Characterization of Sandy Beach & Surf-zone Ecosystems


  • Sonoma State University
  • Humboldt State University
  • UC Santa Cruz
  • Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation

Project B: Baseline Characterization of Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems


  • Humboldt State University
  • California Sea Grant Extension at UC San Diego
  • Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
  • San Jose State University Research Foundation
  • UC Santa Cruz
  • Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation

Project C: Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Keystone Marine Species & Ecosystems


  • Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation
  • Trinidad Rancheria
  • Wiyot Tribe
  • InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council

Marine Traditional Knowledge Ethnographic Database (MTKED)

The purpose of the Marine Traditional Knowledge Ethnographic Database (MTKED) is to provide a common relational database model for the Tribe to independently gather, store, search, and otherwise manage Tolowa Dee-ni' marine traditional knowledge, in both a spatial and aspatial manner. It seeks to document the relationships between places, resources, and activities contained within documented archival materials and oral histories in a standardized manner. This database operates with Microsoft Access and can be geospatially linked to ESRI ArcGIS.

For more information on how the MTKED can be downloaded and used, please refer to the User Guide (PDF).