Engagement with indigenous peoples and honoring traditional knowledge systems

Part of the Springer Climate book series (SPCL)


The organizers of the 2014 US National Climate Assessment (NCA) made a concerted effort to reach out to and collaborate with Indigenous peoples, resulting in the most comprehensive information to date on climate change impacts to Indigenous peoples in a US national assessment. Yet, there is still much room for improvement in assessment processes to ensure adequate recognition of Indigenous perspectives and Indigenous knowledge systems. This article discusses the process used in creating the Indigenous Peoples, Land, and Resources NCA chapter by a team comprised of tribal members, agencies, academics, and nongovernmental organizations, who worked together to solicit, collect, and synthesize traditional knowledges and data from a diverse array of Indigenous communities across the US. It also discusses the synergy and discord between traditional knowledge systems and science and the emergence of cross-cutting issues and vulnerabilities for Indigenous peoples. The challenges of coalescing information about climate change and its impacts on Indigenous communities are outlined along with recommendations on the types of information to include in future assessment outputs. We recommend that future assessments – not only NCA, but other relevant local, regional, national, and international efforts aimed at the translation of climate information and assessments into meaningful actions – should support integration of Indigenous perspectives in a sustained way that builds respectful relationships and effectively engages Indigenous communities. Given the large number of tribes in the US and the current challenges and unique vulnerabilities of Indigenous communities, a special report focusing solely on climate change and Indigenous peoples is warranted.

“Climate change…remind[s] us that, as my Lakota relatives say, ‘We are all related.’ That might be the wisdom we need most whether scientist or non-scientist - Indigenous or non- Indigenous.” – Dr. Daniel Wildcat, Haskell Indian Nations University


Indigenous People Climate Change Impact Indigenous Community Traditional Knowledge Sustained Assessment 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Livelihoods Knowledge NetworkSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Kiksapa Consulting, LLCMandanUSA
  3. 3.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  4. 4.Alaska Native Science CommissionAnchorageUSA
  5. 5.Institute for Tribal Environmental ProfessionalsGeorge Mason UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  6. 6.Intertribal Council on Utility PolicyMinneapolisUSA
  7. 7.United States Geological SurveyFlagstaffUSA
  8. 8.Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change NetworkEugeneUSA
  9. 9.National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbeltUSA
  10. 10.National Wildlife FederationDenverUSA

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