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 are working 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 are currently developing and testing a menu of Adaptation Strategies and Approaches designed specifically for indigenous perspectives. The tribal adaptation menu is an extensive collection of climate change adaptation actions for natural resources management, organized into tiers of general and more specific ideas. It will also include a companion Guiding Principles document, which describes detailed considerations for working with tribal communities.

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 has been 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, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Michigan Technological University, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, and the USDA Forest Service.