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Climate change and Yakama Nation tribal well-being


The Yakima River Basin (Basin) in south-central Washington is a prime example of a place where competing water uses, coupled with over-allocation of water resources, have presented water managers with the challenge of meeting current demand, anticipating future demand, and preparing for potential impacts of climate change. We took a decision analysis approach that gathered diverse stakeholders to discuss their concerns pertaining to climate change effects on the Basin and future goals that were collectively important. One main focus was centered on how climate change may influence future salmon populations. Salmon have played a prominent role in the cultures of Basin communities, especially for tribal communities that have social, cultural, spiritual, subsistence, and economic ties to them. Stakeholders identified the need for a better understanding on how the cultural, spiritual, subsistence, and economic aspects of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation could be affected by changes in salmon populations. In an attempt to understand the complexities of these potential effects, this paper proposes a conceptual model which 1) identifies cultural values and components and the interactions between those components that could influence tribal well-being, and 2) shows how federal natural resource managers could incorporate intangible tribal cultural components into decision-making processes by understanding important components of tribal well-being. Future work includes defining the parameterization of the cultural components in order for the conceptual model to be incorporated with biophysical resource models for scenario simulations.

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We thank the workshop participants, Lynne Koontz, and Jennifer Thorvaldson for their input and support. Also see Supplemental Materials 1 for those who provided input and guidance in developing the conceptual model. Funding was provided by U.S. Geological Survey, Science Applications and Decision Support Program. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement of the U.S. Government.

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Correspondence to J. M. Montag.

Additional information

This article is part of a Special Topic on “Stakeholder Input to Climate Change Research in the Yakima River Basin, WA” edited by Alec Maule and Stephen Waste.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplemental Materials 1

(DOCX 14 kb)

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Montag, J.M., Swan, K., Jenni, K. et al. Climate change and Yakama Nation tribal well-being. Climatic Change 124, 385–398 (2014).

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  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Tribal Community
  • Natural Resource Base
  • Tribal Member
  • Columbia River Basin