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Engagement with indigenous peoples and honoring traditional knowledge systems

October 26, 2015

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 non-governmental 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.

This article is part of a special issue on “The National Climate Assessment: Innovations in Science and Engagement” edited by Katharine Jacobs, Susanne Moser, and James Buizer.

Publication Year 2016
Title Engagement with indigenous peoples and honoring traditional knowledge systems
DOI 10.1007/s10584-015-1535-7
Authors Julie Maldonado, Bull Bennett, Karletta Chief, Patricia Cochran, Karen Cozetto, Bob Gough, Margaret M. Hiza-Redsteer, Kathy Lynn, Nancy Maynard, Garrit Voggesser
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Climatic Change
Index ID 70156695
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center