Tribal communities are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of their reliance on the natural environment to sustain traditional activities and their limited resources to respond to climate change impacts. At the same time, tribes have valuable traditional knowledge that can aid regional efforts to address climate change.
There were two overarching goals of this project: The first was to build partnerships between South Central Climate Science Center (SC CSC) researchers and tribal communities, linking tribes with climate change tools and resources and developing a model that could be replicated in other regions. The second goal was to document tribal viewpoints on climate change impacts and adaptation, so that these perspectives could be considered alongside scientific research.
Researchers developed and implemented a series of five workshops – four in Oklahoma and one in New Mexico – that brought together SC CSC researchers and more than 60 tribal members from 33 tribes across the central U.S. The workshops provided an opportunity to educate tribal environmental managers about climate change impacts and conservation strategies, to document the climate-related needs and capabilities of the region’s tribal nations, and to build conversation about climate change between researchers and tribal leaders.
In conjunction with the workshops, two indigenous filmmakers on the research team conducted interviews and incorporated these and related footage into a short film titled Listening for the Rain: Indigenous Perspectives on Climate Change. The film captures tribal observations and understanding of climate change, as well as the ways in which climate change is currently being addressed in Indian Country. Its circulation on the Internet, at conferences, and by DVD has prompted continued, valuable dialogue among tribal and scientific research communities.
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“Mountains in New Mexico - Credit: Toni Klemm”