How can Tribes use indigenous approaches?

Some tribes may prefer to assess their climate risks using a primarily indigenous approach. Such assessments are rooted strongly in indigenous culture and knowledge, and are typically highly participatory, engaging tribal elders and community members, and emphasizing indigenous knowledge.

Below are links to guides and resources for assessing climate risks using and indigenous approach and specific examples of climate assessments that took an indigenous approach.

Below are guides and resources for assessing climate risks using an indigenous approach

Guide: Traditional Knowledge

Traditional knowledge can be used to inform how locations will be affected by climate change.

Traditional knowledge can serve as the basis for assessing climate change vulnerability through regionally-specific observations, knowledge, and interpretations. This guidance aims to communicate both the benefits and risks associated with sharing traditional knowledges in federal and other non-tribal climate change efforts. The guidance also aims to highlight principles of engagement as well processes and protocols that can be used to ensure the appropriate sharing and protection of traditional knowledges. These guidelines were developed by the Climate and Traditional Knowledges Workgroup (CTKW) that includes indigenous persons, staff of indigenous governments and organizations, and experts with experience working with issues concerning traditional knowledges.
Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives

Resource: Tribal Climate Guide

The Tribal Climate Change Guide includes diverse examples of tribal assessments.

The Tribal Climate Change Guide is part of the Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Project, and offers a broad suite of resources for tribal vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning. One of these resources is a database of existing tribal adaptation plans demonstrating diverse approaches to tribal vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning.
Tribal Climate Change Guide: Tribal Adaptation Plans

The examples below highlight assessments that were strongly rooted in indigenous culture and knowledge

Example: Akwesasne

Traditional knowledge was used as the foundation of the Akwesasne climate change adaptation plan.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan investigates “the impacts of climate change on the resources, assets, and community of Akwesasne and develops recommendations for actions to adapt to projected climate change impacts.” This climate change adaptation plan is a first step in an effort to develop practical actions that the Tribe can take in order to adapt to ongoing and expected climate changes.
Read the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Example: Quileute Tribe

Quileute Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Climate Change Documents Review

The Quileute Tribe contracted with Willamette Cultural Resources Associates, Ltd. (WillametteCRA) to complete a Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) report to inform the Tribe’s Climate Plan. The TEK report is a review ethnohistoric and ethnographic literature of the Quileute Tribe. The report identifies and synthesizes cultural use and cultural context of traditional resources and habitats, and adaptations to climate and other environmental changes.
Quileute Tribe TEK Review

Example: Menominee Nation

Video: Through Tribal Eyes: Change on the Menominee Nation

The Menominee Nation is applying indigenous knowledge to better understand how climate change will threaten their traditional livelihoods and the forest lands that they manage. The indigenous knowledge also can be used to identify ways to adapt and sustain their forests and forest management. The Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) at the College of Menominee Nation includes indigenous knowledge in their research and outreach projects. The Institute works on climate change initiatives with other organizations including the U.S. Forest Service and the Northeast Climate Science Center and focuses on training students to on these issues.
Video: Through Tribal Eyes: Change on the Menominee NationMenominee Nation: US Climate Resilience Toolkit

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