Climate Adaptation and Indigenous Knowledge

Traditional and indigenous knowledges and perspectives have not often been recognized in climate adaptation planning efforts focused on natural resources. We are working with regional tribal partners to address this gap, and collaborating to provide tools and guidance to help natural resources staff and community members address tribal perspectives through climate change adaptation.

Effects from Climate Change

Indigenous cultures are rooted in specific locations and shaped by relationships with plants, animals, and other beings in the natural world. As climate change continues, these relationships will be challenged in many ways. Culturally important species may be vulnerable to changing conditions, or the timing of formerly predictable natural events may shift. Future conditions may also disrupt the ability of tribal members to access important places. Learning about these climate-related impacts will depend on respectful information sharing with tribal members and knowledge holders.

The following resources are useful for considering future changes: 

Adaptation in action

We worked with a diverse team to create an adaptation menu specifically designed to represent indigenous perspectives. Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad: A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu was published in April 2019. This menu is an extensive collection of climate change adaptation actions for natural resources management, organized into tiers of general and more specific ideas. It also includes Guiding Principles to support working with tribal communities.

Download Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad: A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu

The tribal adaptation menu is designed to be compatible with climate adaptation planning processes, such as the Adaptation Workbook published in the Forest Adaptation Resources guidebook. This resource may be useful to bridge communication barriers for non-tribal persons or organizations interested in indigenous approaches to adaptation and the needs and values of diverse tribal communities.

Work with Us

This first version of the tribal adaptation menu was intentionally created with Ojibwe and Menominee languages, concepts, and values. To ensure these resources are applicable to more communities, we have created the tool to be customized for other communities using their language and cultural knowledge. The tribal adaptation menu is currently being used at hands-on adaptation workshops. 

Contact Kristen Schmitt and Stephen Handler for more information

This tool was created by a core team of collaborators, representing a variety of organizations: the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, 1854 Treaty Authority, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute, Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Michigan Technological University, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, USDA Forest Service, and USDA Climate Hubs.