Conducting a Tribal/Indigenous Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Developing a Tribal Adaptation Plan

Conducting a Tribal/Indigenous Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Developing a Tribal Adaptation Plan

Shannon McNeeley
Colorado State University
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 2
Session Type: 

Indigenuity Session 1 of 3
This symposium will focus on indigenous approaches to climate change adaptation planning and vulnerability assessment. Tribes and indigenous peoples have a range of adaptation planning and management concerns for understudied species and cultural use resources. There is also a critical need to identify strategies that will leverage limited resources and capacity to ensure a holistic understanding of climate vulnerability, as well as existing data and information that will inform assessment and planning. This session will feature speakers with experience in tribal/indigenous climate change adaptation planning and vulnerability assessment. The speakers will share lessons learned, challenges, and best practices to guide tribal staff and potential partners to produce high quality plans and vulnerability assessments that incorporate unique tribal concerns and lead to effective implementation. Speakers will discuss approaches used, incorporation of traditional knowledges, partnerships with academic, tribal and non-tribal organizations, or agencies, and tips for starting and conducting assessments. Speakers will also talk about the relationship between vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning to ensure that there is effective use of resources and partnerships so that these processes are supportive of each other. We conducted a national survey through ITEP, Rising Voices, and other networks of the Indigenous peoples and climate change community to ask what sessions they wanted for NAF2019, and this was one of the top requested sessions. All speakers are confirmed.


Introduction to the Indigenuity Sessions
Shannon McNeeley, Colorado State University
Introduction to the Indigenous Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning Session
Chas Jones, Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center
The Lac du Flambeau (Waswagoning) Climate Resilience Initiative
Eric Chapman, Lac du Flambeau
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We know the climate is changing and will impact our life ways as indigenous people. In order for our Tribal Community to prepare for the upcoming climate alterations, the Lac du Flambeau Tribe is creating a Resilience Initiative. During this presentation we will share the following progress. We will show how our action planning reflects the voice and vision of our community by following our Ojibwe traditional knowledge which has been passed down through our traditions and customs. We will reflect how our community assessment process considered the vulnerability of our tribal environment, health and infrastructure concerns. We will illustrate how we considered Hazard Mitigation planning to reduce both natural and man-made risks to our community now and in the future. We will discuss how we identified ways to reduce energy, save money and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by developing an energy reduction plan and how we are working to identify actions our community can take to prepare for a changing climate. We hope you join, us as we share our journey from assessing vulnerabilities to the adaptation planning process.

Yurok Tribe’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Water and Aquatic Resources
Joe Hostler, Yurok Tribe
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This session discusses how the Yurok Tribe Environmental Program (YTEP) located in Northwest California developed their Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Water and Aquatic Resources. YTEP partnered with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP), Adaptation International, and the Alaskan Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) to make a community driven adaptation plan focused on health and resilience that seeks to address the Tribal community’s recognized and urgent need to decrease susceptibility and improve health outcomes. A goal of their plan was to assess the vulnerabilities and resiliencies of Yurok waters, aquatic species, and people in the face of climate change and to identify actions and strategies that will allow Yurok lifeways, culture, and health to grow despite the changing climate. For Yurok--health is broader than the absence of illness or injury--it includes spiritual, emotional, physical, and environmental health. If the environment is sick, so are the Yurok.

The Nimíipuu: A Climate Change Story
Stefanie Krantz, Nez Perce Tribe
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The Nez Perce Tribe has been working on a holistic community based tribal vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning process for two years, but has a long history of working on projects to address climate change. After the 2015 drought, fires, and fish kill caused devastating losses to traditional resources, fish, and human health, the Tribal Executive Committee directed the Tribe’s Fisheries and Natural Resources Division to address climate change. This talk shares stories of how climate change is impacting the tribal community, and the Tribe’s vision and commitment to a resilient future. We also share our process to combine traditional knowledge and western science, lessons learned, the beauty of the interior Columbia River Basin, and the interesting experience of working on climate change adaptation planning in Idaho.

Metlakatla Indian Community Climate Change Adaptation Plan
Genelle Winter, Metlakatla Indian Community
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The Metlakatla Indian Community (MIC) is the southernmost community in the State of Alaska and home to around 1500 mostly Tsimshian members and other non-Native residents. Climate change impacts have been observed for some time but have become more frequent and more severe, forcing the members, especially fishermen, to adapt to those changes in intuitive, natural ways. One of the most significant climate change impacts in Southeast Alaska has been the impact on utilities’ capacity to generate hydroelectricity for the region. Both components – the fisheries along with hydroelectric power generation – have been included in the MIC plan, creating a unique approach of recording adaptations that have been and are already taking place, as opposed to the more common approach of recommended adaptations to impacts. In 2015, MIC received funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperative to write a community tribal Climate Adaptation Plan. The Plan was completed in December of 2018 and formally adopted by the Tribal Council.