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Use of traditional knowledge in emergency management for tsunami hazard: A case study from Washington State, USA

Julia Becker (GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand)
David Johnston (GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand)
Heather Lazrus (University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)
George Crawford (Washington State Emergency Management Division, Camp Murray, Washington, USA)
Dave Nelson (Washington State Emergency Management Division, Camp Murray, Washington, USA)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 29 August 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore a case study in Washington State, USA where traditional stories (“oral tradition”) are being used in a contemporary context. Traditional knowledge is a system of experiential knowledge acquired through the continual observation of and interaction with the environment. This form of knowledge is still held by many societies and can provide an important contribution in emergency management for natural hazards. Those holding traditional knowledge can assist in understanding the nature of local hazards, suggest appropriate risk reduction and response mechanisms, and even give options for recovery based on past experiences.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper first discusses the nature of traditional knowledge and how it can contribute to emergency management. It then goes on to investigate a particular case study where a traditional Native American story has been combined with contemporary methods of hazard mitigation to create an educational video for tsunami hazard.

Findings

Traditional knowledge can be used effectively to undertake hazard education and enhance response to warnings. The video, titled “Run to Higher Ground!”, is an example of this, and has been readily taken up by indigenous communities and the general population (both in the USA and internationally) as an educational tool.

Originality/value

The paper will be of value to those working within the emergency management sector, and is particularly useful for communities who need to respond to warnings.

Keywords

Citation

Becker, J., Johnston, D., Lazrus, H., Crawford, G. and Nelson, D. (2008), "Use of traditional knowledge in emergency management for tsunami hazard: A case study from Washington State, USA", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 488-502. https://doi.org/10.1108/09653560810901737

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited