Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Case Study

Addressing Climate Change at a Tribal Level

Author:Steve Robinson and Michael T. Alesko

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A global issue poses particular challenges to indigenous peoples everywhere. How can tribes respond locally?

Global climate change arguably is an overwhelming and unavoidable environmental, social, political and economic issue which is already at a crisis stage and only becoming more so. Indigenous peoples are the first affected and in many cases among the most affected. They also have been among the most vocal proponents of solutions but their advocacies, as these peoples themselves, often are marginalized. This case study begins by examining the macro realities of the global climate change crisis as it pertains to indigenous peoples then segues into a more micro examination of why and how it can be addressed -- and is being addressed -- by Native American tribes, in particular in this case the Swinomish Tribe of Washington State. The Tribe is in the midst of the Swinomish Climate Change Initiative, a two-year project which in its own words is to "assess local impacts, identify vulnerabilities, and prioritize planning areas and actions to address the possible effects of climate change." An action plan and other long-range solution products are to emerge from the effort.

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Updated: June 14, 2010