Climatic Change

, Volume 120, Issue 3, pp 569–584 | Cite as

Climate change impacts on the water resources of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S.

  • K. CozzettoEmail author
  • K. Chief
  • K. Dittmer
  • M. Brubaker
  • R. Gough
  • K. Souza
  • F. Ettawageshik
  • S. Wotkyns
  • S. Opitz-Stapleton
  • S. Duren
  • P. Chavan


This paper provides an overview of climate change impacts on tribal water resources and the subsequent cascading effects on the livelihoods and cultures of American Indians and Alaska Natives living on tribal lands in the U.S. A hazards and vulnerability framework for understanding these impacts is first presented followed by context on the framework components, including climate, hydrologic, and ecosystem changes (i.e. hazards) and tribe-specific vulnerability factors (socioeconomic, political, infrastructural, environmental, spiritual and cultural), which when combined with hazards lead to impacts. Next regional summaries of impacts around the U.S. are discussed. Although each tribal community experiences unique sets of impacts because of their individual history, culture, and geographic setting, many of the observed impacts are common among different groups and can be categorized as impacts on—1) water supply and management (including water sources and infrastructure), 2) aquatic species important for culture and subsistence, 3) ranching and agriculture particularly from climate extremes (e.g., droughts, floods), 4) tribal sovereignty and rights associated with water resources, fishing, hunting, and gathering, and 5) soil quality (e.g., from coastal and riverine erosion prompting tribal relocation or from drought-related land degradation). The paper finishes by highlighting potentially relevant research questions based on the five impact categories.


Climate Change Impact Wild Rice Traditional Ecological Knowledge Tribal Community Alaska Native 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank the following people for their valuable assistance with the manuscript preparation: D. Heom, J. Deems, J. Nania, J. Maldonado, M. Stover, N. Crowe, R. Pandya, T. Howes, and two anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

10584_2013_852_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.5 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 2.46 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Cozzetto
    • 1
    Email author
  • K. Chief
    • 2
  • K. Dittmer
    • 3
  • M. Brubaker
    • 4
  • R. Gough
    • 5
  • K. Souza
    • 6
  • F. Ettawageshik
    • 7
  • S. Wotkyns
    • 8
  • S. Opitz-Stapleton
    • 9
  • S. Duren
    • 10
  • P. Chavan
    • 11
  1. 1.Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental SciencesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish CommissionPortlandUSA
  4. 4.Alaska Native Tribal Health ConsortiumAnchorageUSA
  5. 5.Intertribal Council on Utility PolicyRosebudUSA
  6. 6.PRiMO, Indigenous Ecological Knowledge CircleHonoluluUSA
  7. 7.United Tribes of MichiganHarbor SpringsUSA
  8. 8.Institute for Tribal Environmental ProfessionalsFlagstaffUSA
  9. 9.Staplets ConsultingBoulderUSA
  10. 10.Institute of Arctic and Alpine ResearchUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  11. 11.Alaska Native Tribal Health ConsortiumAnchorageUSA

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