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As part of the visit, Secretary Haaland attended a roundtable discussion on working with tribal governments to understand and identify climate adaptation science.

On Friday, May 6, 2022, National CASC Chief Douglas Beard and Midwest CASC Acting Director Olivia LeDee had the honor of hosting Secretary Haaland when she visited the Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (MW CASC) to officially open the doors on the USGS’s ninth regional CASC. The MW CASC is hosted at the University of Minnesota and has partnerships with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Illinois, Indiana University, Michigan State University, The Nature Conservancy, the College of Menominee Nation, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.  

As part of the visit, Secretary Haaland attended a roundtable discussion on working with tribal governments to understand and identify climate adaptation science. The discussion focused on three aspects — building partnerships, direct engagement of tribal governments in identifying science priorities, and capacity building. The roundtable included Representative Betty McCollum, Senator Tina Smith, Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, and representatives from tribal organizations and the University of Minnesota. Much of the discussion focused on the importance of engaging tribal governments directly to understand their science needs. Central to that engagement are efforts to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into science processes while respecting the ownership of the knowledge, and building capacity for tribal organizations to conduct their own climate adaptation planning. Examples of how the CASCs work in developing tribal capacity are through a fellowship program for graduate students and a summer research experience for undergraduates focused on tribal participation. 

The CASC network has a long-standing partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to provide tribal liaisons co-located with the regional CASCs. The tribal liaisons work directly with tribal governments within the region to identify climate adaptation science needs to inform regional CASC science priorities. The CASC network then solicits proposals to support these priorities across the region. At the roundtable, the BIA tribal liaison emphasized the need to visit with tribal governments on-site to build the trust between the organizations necessary to effectively implement the science projects. Finally, a student presented on their work on a project to support tribal climate adaptation science needs for tribal governments. The project is focused on the early life history of wild rice (manoomin), a culturally important food for the Anishinaabe located in the northern parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.   

After the roundtable discussion concluded, a reception to celebrate the opening of the MW CASC followed. The Secretary had an opportunity to meet with USGS employees, other partners, and various students working on projects for the MW CASC. President Gabel (University of Minnesota), Lt. Governor Flanagan, Representative McCollum, Senator Smith, and Secretary Haaland gave remarks in support of the MW CASC.  

In her remarks, the Secretary emphasized the role the MW CASC plays in allowing experts from federal agencies, universities, tribal nations, management agencies, non-profits, and communities, to join in the scientific process and create their own solutions. Secretary Haaland finished her remarks by stating how impressed she was with the strength and enthusiasm of the University of Minnesota, host to the CASC. She also complimented the CASC’s deep and respectful partnerships and shared her hope for future climate professionals currently with the CASC as graduate students.   

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