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Tribal Liaison in Focus: Althea Walker

Learn more about Althea Walker, tribal liaison for the Southwest CASC, in this short interview conducted by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP).

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Every month, the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) is publishing a short interview with a tribal climate/resilience liaison to help tribes and tribal organizations learn how the liaisons can assist with adaptation and resilience planning. In February 2019, ITEP featured Althea Walker, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, who is the tribal liaison for the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center. Learn more about Althea's work in the short interview below.

ITEP: What motivated you to apply for & accept the position of tribal resilience/climate liaison?

Althea: I applied for this position because I wanted to serve multiple tribal communities, all while further expanding my knowledge and experience around Indigenous populations and climate change. This opportunity has covered all of that and so much more and I am truly thankful and excited to be able to serve in this capacity.

ITEP: How can tribes use the services & knowledge of the liaisons?

Althea: As a free resource to the tribes, I serve as an important resource to tribal nations and tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) within the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (SW CASC) service area (Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah) by providing information, technical assistance, and access to subject matter experts necessary to support local climate resilience research, planning, and implementation efforts.

The SW CASC is a collaborative partnership between USGS and a consortium of seven academic institutions from across the region, in which I can connect tribes and TCUs with subject matter experts from the following institutions, but not limited to:

University of Arizona (Host Institution)

Colorado State University

Desert Research Institute

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

University of California, Davis

University of California, Los Angeles

Utah State University

ITEP:  Most interesting/memorable place you have visited.

Althea: As the SW CASC/AIHEC Tribal Climate Adaptation Science Liaison, the most interesting and memorable place I’ve visited so far was Scandinavia. I flew into Sweden, then over to Norway, and drove from Kirkenes, Norway down to Tornio, Finland. I was asked to represent the US Southwest at the Northern Fishing Traditions Festival in Tornio, Finland, where I was on a mission to bring together Indigenous peoples from the US Southwest and Arctic. I engaged with Indigenous delegates from around the world, including Western Siberia, Greenland, British Columbia, and New Zealand regarding cultural heritage, climate change, ecological restoration, and issues related to traditional foods. The most influential part of this journey was the opportunity to spend time with the Sami, the Indigenous people from Finland, Russia, and Sweden, in which they shared their culture, struggles, food, and prayers with me. I am truly thankful for this opportunity to represent the US Southwest, to bring together Indigenous peoples of the US Southwest and Arctic, and I look forward to the journey ahead as the SW CASC/AIHEC Tribal Climate Adaptation Science Liaison.