Ronald L. Trosper, Ph.D.


Ronald L. Trosper, Ph.D.
Ronald Trosper
Professor, Aboriginal Forestry
University of British Columbia, Forest Resources Management
Faculty of Forestry 2021-2424 Main Mall
City, State, ZIP
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4
[email protected]
Award year


Project Details

Trosper used his Pew Fellowship to investigate the traditional Native American values and institutions/traditions (such as give-away requirements, hunting bosses and usufruct tenure) Indian tribes could utilize in contemporary conditions to manage their land and support ecosystem health.

Most Indian communities have traditionally had values and institutions that protected and enhanced the health of the ecosystems in which they lived, but often these have eroded in our modern culture. His research on this issue will culminate a book entitled Resilience, Reciprocity and Ecological Economics: Northwest Coast Sustainability which will present case studies of three culture areas: Native Americans of the Nass and Skeena River area of British Columbia, Cree of the boreal forest and the Iroquois.

In addition to research and writing, Trosper organized the conference "Bridging Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Ecosystem Science", which was held in August 1998 and involved several Pew Fellows. He has also given many presentations on issues of Native American values and systems and their relation to conservation and natural resource management.


Ronald Trosper is Professor of Aboriginal Forestry in the Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia. Previously, from 1989-2004, he was Director of Native American Forestry Program and Professor in the School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University. His career has centered around the relationship between economic development and land use by indigenous peoples in North America. Between positions in universities, he worked for six years as Tribal Economist for The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation, Montana, where he is an enrolled member. His professional training is in economics, with an M.A. (1971) and Ph.D. (1974) from Harvard University. His undergraduate training was interdisciplinary, having received a B.A. from Harvard in Social Studies in 1967.

He taught at the University of Washington, Boston College, Harvard, and Salish Kootenai College, in addition to his previous position at Northern Arizona University and his current position at UBC. He worked for the Council of Energy Resource Tribes in 1982 and 1983. In 1994, he was Acting Director of the National Indian Policy Center in Washington, D.C. At Northern Arizona University, he also served as Interim Direction of the Institute for Native Americans (1995-96) and Interim Chairman of the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies (2000-2001).

In 1998, he completed three years as a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment. That award supported his studying the traditional relationship of humans and the land on the Pacific Northwest Coast prior to European settlement. It resulted in his recent book, Resilience, Reciprocity and Ecological Economics: Northwest Coast Sustainability (Routledge, 2009). He has been at UBC since July, 2004. At UBC he teaches two courses on Indigenous Peoples and forests, and the core course in Community and Aboriginal forestry. His current research involves examination of tenure and governance in the forest sector in BC, use of the Q method in revealing contemporary Aboriginal views about land use, the methods of governance used to generate resilience in traditional Northwest Coast Aboriginal societies, and the governance of economic enterprises. He just completed work as the Research Area Leader for Aboriginal issues for the Sustainable Forest Management Network, and he is co-editor of a state of knowledge report for the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, Traditional Forest Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity, scheduled for completion in 2011.

On July 1, 2011, he will become Head of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona, Tucson.



Ph.D., Harvard University
1974: Economics, Massachusetts, USA

Masters of Science, Harvard University
1970: Economics, Massachusetts, USA

A.B., Harvard University
1967: Magna cum laude, Social Studies, Massachusetts, USA


US Department of Agriculture
1997-1998: Committee of Scientists to Evaluate Land Management Planning of USDA's Forest Service

National Research Council
1996-1997: Ocean Studies Board

Northern Arizona University, Native American Program Council
1992-1993: Chair

National Research Council
1996: Committee on the Prospects and Opportunities of America's non-Federal Forests


Marine Fellow
1995: Pew Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment


  • Trosper, R. L. 2009. Resilience, Reciprocity and Ecological Economics: Northwest Coast Sustainability. London and New York: Routledge Studies in Ecological Economics.
  • Trosper, R. L., H. Nelson, G. Hoberg, P. Smith and W. Nikolakis. 2008. "Institutional Determinants of Profitable Commercial Forestry Enterprises Among First Nations in Canada" Canadian Journal of Forest Research 38:2: 226-238.
  • Trosper, R. L. 2007. "Indigenous Influence on forest management on the Menominee Indian Reservation." Forest Ecology and Management 249: 134-139.
  • Trosper, R. 2005. "Emergence unites ecology and society." Ecology and Society 10(1) 14. [online] URL:
  • Trosper, R. L. 2003. "Policy Transformations in the US Forestry Sector, 1970-2000: Implications for Sustainable Use and Resilience," in Navigating Social-Ecological Systems: Building Resilience for Complexity and Change, edited by Fikret Berkes, Johan Colding and Carl Folke. (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press), pp. 328-351.
  • Trosper, R. L. 2003. "Resilience in Pre-contact Pacific Northwest Social Ecological Systems," Conservation Ecology 7(3): 6. [online] URL:
  • Trosper, R. L. 2002. "Northwest Coast Indigenous Institutions that Supported Resilience and Sustainability," Ecological Economics 41, pp. 329-344.
  • Trosper, Ronald L. 1997. Incentive systems that support sustainability: A first nations example. Conservation Ecology
  • Trosper, R.L. 1995. Traditional American Indian economic policy. American Indian Culture and Research Journal 19(1): 65
  • Trosper, R.L. 1994. Who is subsidizing whom? In: American Indian Policy: Self-Governance and Economic Development for American Indians (F.J. Lyden and L.H. Legters eds.). Greenwood Press, Westport, CT
  • Trosper, R.L. 1992. Mind sets and economic development on Indian reservations. In: What Can Tribes Do? Strategies and Institutions in American Indian Economic Development (S. Cornell and J. Kalt eds.). American Indian Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
  • Trosper, R.L. 1988. That other discipline: Economics and American Indian history. In: New Directions in American Indian History (C.G. Calloway ed.). University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, p. 199-222
  • Trosper, Ronald L. 1988. Multicriterion decision-making in a tribal context. Policy Studies Journal 16(4): 826

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