Human Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 87–101

The Politics of Adaptation: Subsistence Livelihoods and Vulnerability to Climate Change in the Koyukon Athabascan Village of Ruby, Alaska


DOI: 10.1007/s10745-013-9619-3

Cite this article as:
Wilson, N.J. Hum Ecol (2014) 42: 87. doi:10.1007/s10745-013-9619-3


The concepts of vulnerability and adaptation have contributed to understanding human responses to climate change. However, analysis of the implications of the broader political context on adaptation has largely been absent. Through a case study of the subsistence livelihoods of Koyukon Athabascan people of Ruby Village, this paper examines the implications of adaptation to the social changes precipitated by colonization for the articulation of current responses to climate change. Semi-structured interviews, seasonal rounds, and land-use mapping conducted with 20 community experts indicate that subsistence livelihoods are of continued importance to the people of Ruby in spite of the dramatic social change. While adaptive responses demonstrate resilience, adaptation to one form of change can increase vulnerability to other kinds of perturbations. Research findings illustrate that a historical approach to adaptation can clarify the influence of the present political context on indigenous peoples’ responses to impacts of climate changes.


Adaptation Climate change Equity and justice Indigenous peoples Subsistence livelihoods Vulnerability Alaska 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Resources, Environment and SustainabilityUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverUSA

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