Traditional Knowledge in Adaptation

Traditional Knowledge in Adaptation

Alex Score
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 8
Session Type: 
Tools and Posters

Relationships between plants, animals and Native peoples are changing as environmental conditions change. Through a film and four papers we explore vulnerability, resilience, adaptive capacity and appropriate methods for managing culturally important resources to ensure cultural traditions and legacies of indigenous groups continue. Traditional, cultural, and indigenous knowledges applied in climate adaptation planning and action are presented broadly across the country, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, in the Great Lakes region and Southeast Alaska.


Inhabitants Film
Anna Elisabeth Palmer, Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs
  • Costa Nicholas Boutsikaris, Social Good Fund
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INHABITANTS is a documentary film currently in production that showcases the integration of traditional knowledges in resource management on Tribal Lands across North America. A ten-minute teaser of the film will provide a first look into some of these stories that include the Karuk Tribe’s prescribed fire management, the Blackfeet Nation’s bison restoration program, the Menominee Tribe’s sustainable forestry operations, the Hopi Tribe’s dryland farming techniques, and the Quinault Indian Nation’s fisheries restoration efforts.

Expressions of Native American Cultural Heritage in Response to Changes in Environmental Setting
Gus Bisbal, National Climate Adaptation Science Center
  • Chas Jones, ATNI / NW CASC
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Cultural expressions of American Indian and Alaska Natives (AIAN) reflect the relationship between AIAN and the plant and animal species present in an area. Different forces that modify that relationship and influence those expressions can potentially shape AIAN cultural heritage and even compromise their cultural identity. Herein, we propose seven modalities to illustrate how AIAN cultural expressions may respond to changes in environmental settings that alter the relationship between plant and animal assemblages, and Native peoples. Each modality provides insight into the vulnerability, resilience, and adaptive capacity of AIAN cultural expressions to changes in environmental settings. Future research may delve deeper into these modalities and help identify appropriate methods for managing culturally important resources. More culturally sensitive management approaches may strengthen conservation practices and safeguard the cultural legacy of indigenous groups.

A Culturally-relevant Plant Phenology Study in Northern Wisconsin Ceded Territories
Hannah Panci, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
  • Travis Bartnick, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
  • Melonee Montano, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
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The Ojibwe member tribes of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) depend on natural resources to meet spiritual, cultural, medicinal, subsistence, and economic needs. Climate change effects on beings’ (species) distribution and abundance may affect the ability of tribal members to continue exercising their treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather these resources. We implemented a study designed to record phenological characteristics of 10 plant beings used as food and utilitarian resources in the lifeways of the Anishinaabeg in the upper Great Lakes region. Beings of interest were identified through Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) interviews with tribal elders, harvesters, and gatherers from GLIFWC member tribes. The project’s goals are to 1) collect baseline phenological data that indicates the timing of periodic life cycle events, some of which are associated with tribal gathering activities, and 2) to track the timing of these events over several growing seasons. Data collected from this and other studies will be used to assess the potential impacts of climate change on the traditional harvesting of these beings throughout the Ceded Territories. The study has been ongoing for three years; phenological timelines have varied widely from year to year. Leeks are the first beings to appear in the spring, and blueberries are the last to lose their leaves in the fall. The ability of tribal members to exercise treaty rights will continue to be affected by climate change and it is essential to consider tribal history, culture, and practice in climate change adaptation planning.

Makah Cultural and Traditional Resource Assessment: A preliminary framework to utilize traditional knowledge into climate change planning
Danielle Edelman, Makah Tribe/Washington Sea Grant
  • Haley Kennard, Makah Tribe
  • Laura Nelson, University of Washington/Makah Tribe
  • Katie Wrubel, Makah Tribe
  • Michael Chang, Makah Tribe
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Since time immemorial, qwidiččaʔa•tx̌, or the Makah Tribe, has lived on the Northwest Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Climate change has already impacted the Makah Tribe and will continue to do so in the future. Our history, archaeological archives, stories, and knowledge show that the Makah Tribe has an extensive history of adapting to changing climates. Traditional, cultural, and Indigenous knowledges can play an important role in climate adaptation planning, and for Tribes and indigenous peoples, the use of different types of knowledge can be a crucial component in ensuring that planning strategies and outcomes are culturally-appropriate and aligned with tribal values. The Makah Climate Change Workgroup, an internal workgroup for the Makah Tribe, has begun a Makah Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Resource Assessment to complement our Makah Climate Impacts Assessment and Makah Climate Adaptation Plan. In this presentation, we outline a preliminary framework in how Tribes and Indigenous groups can utilize Traditional and Indigenous Knowledges within their own planning processes in the following ways: 1) provide historical baselines and fill in gaps in monitoring data; 2) identify cultural resources that are vulnerable to future climate change; 3) use traditional, cultural, and historical knowledge and stories to engage the community on climate change impacts; and 4) identify potential climate adaptation and mitigation strategies.