Engaging in Resilience: Building Tribal Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change

Engaging in Resilience: Building Tribal Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change

Alex Score
Time Slot: 
Luncheon Sessions Day 3
Session Type: 
Tools and Posters

Climate impacts can be felt across the board in these three unique Tribal communities. This session features ways that each Tribe is developing and building their capacity to address the climate disruptions they are seeing and feeling. As each Tribe continues to establish their adaptive capacity, they are creating a process of resilience and adaptation that works for their region, ecosystem, culture and most importantly, their Tribal members.


Beyond Speculation: An Indigenous Alaskan People's Adaptation in the Face of an Ecological Catastrophe
Patricia K. Schwalenberg, Chugach Regional Resources Commission
  • Rita A. Miraglia, Chugach Regional Resources Commission
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The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill disaster is globally well known. Less well known is the story of the Chugach People, whose traditional lands were spoiled by the spill. The Indigenous Alutiiq villages in the region were forced to adapt in the face of this event. As coastal people, they rely on the water for their sustenance and livelihoods. The people of the Chugach Region are located in Southcentral Alaska. The Chugach Region is comprised of seven Alaska Native Villages: Tatitlek, Chenega, Valdez, and Eyak (in Prince William Sound) and Quteckak, Port Graham, and Nanwalek in Lower Cook Inlet.

Many animals perished as a result of the oil spill, reducing the number of harvestable animals; others were contaminated with oil. People did not trust the safety of the foods they were able to catch and/or gather. In addition, the influx of people from outside the region (i.e., spill workers, scientists, researchers, reporters, etc.), made it difficult to impossible for people to harvest.
Adaptations to this extreme event included a change in diet, more reliance upon commercial foods, a transition to a cash economy, identifying new harvest areas, and identifying new harvestable foods that were safe to eat.

The Chugach People also adapted by increasing their participation in politics and decision-making beyond the communities and beyond the region. This included the creation of Inter-Tribal organizations to better represent the interests of the affected communities, being meaningfully involved in restoration and enhancement projects through co-management, and activism.

Learning to Braid: Weaving Traditional Knowledge and Western Science in a Climate-Smart Restoration Toolkit
Stefanie L Krantz, Nez Perce Tribe
  • Amber Ziegler, Nez Perce Tribe
  • Rue Hoover, Nez Perce Tribe
  • Josiah Pinkham, Nez Perce Tribe
  • Dr. Alan Marshall, Nez Perce Tribe
  • Nakia Williamson, Nez Perce Tribe
  • Tom Gardali, Point Blue Conservation Science
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Indigenous peoples around the world are working to incorporate cultural survival and indigenous knowledge into ecological restoration. Changing landscapes challenge restoration professionals to be intentional and forward thinking to develop restoration projects that increase the ability of ecosystems to cope with change. Wetland and riparian restoration is particularly important to consider due to the vulnerability of wetlands to shifts in precipitation and temperature. There is a need for tools that include future projections and traditional knowledge in restoration efforts.

Point Blue Conservation Science developed a Climate-Smart Restoration Toolkit to assist practitioners in building evolutionary resilience and ecological insurance into riparian restoration projects in California. This toolkit provides a way to assess the functional performance of a planting design by evaluating the climate-related traits of plants, and seasonal availability of flowers and seeds. However, it does not include cultural values most important to Native Americans.

In response to the need to bring together Traditional Knowledge and Western Science, the Nez Perce Tribe is modifying Point Blue’s toolkit to work in the Interior Columbia Basin. The Nimiipuu have traditionally derived food, fiber, medicines, and cultural meaning from wetland and riparian plants. We are integrating cultural values into the toolkit to provide a way to evaluate the cultural and climate performance of a planting design. This presentation will demonstrate the practical incorporation of Traditional Knowledge and Western Science, the value and customization of the original toolkit, and discuss lessons learned and the path forward to finishing the toolkit and testing it through implementation.

Circle of Resilience: A Pueblo Model of Adaptation
Cynthia Naha, Santo Domingo Tribe
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The Santo Domingo Tribe, which is a Indian Pueblo, located in Central NM along the middle Rio Grande. We've received funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs for Category 2: Climate Adaptation Planning in 2015 and have been working extensively to address the impacts of climate change on our Pueblo and looking at methods and strategies of resilience, including the understanding and use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge to assist with the implementation of our actions to safe guard our Pueblo. Through this grant mechanism, we have also reached out to neighboring Pueblos and Tribes to assist with their climate change efforts and the creation of the New Mexico Tribal Resilience Action Network. With assistance from Flower Hill Institute, South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center and Santo Domingo Tribe's Natural Resources Department, we have been successful in the formation of NM TRAN and gaining participation from the other Pueblos and Tribes of NM, including a few Navajo Chapters. Together we are looking and past practices of our ancestors and melding that knowledge with western science to create adaptive strategies to continue our resilience against a change climate in the southwest.