Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Theme

Climate Change


New!Darkness to Dawn: Columbia River Native Tribes’ Science and Salmon Restoration Success

Author:Brian Footen

From the start of its 1243 mile journey in the Canadian Rockies all the way to the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia River drains the heart, soul and bounty of the Pacific Northwest. In this water is a history of a river and people that goes back 15,000 years. The bountiful water has supplied the world with food and energy. The development of the river for hydro-power and irrigation has played a critical role in modern history. This development, however, has come at great cost to the original inhabitants of the area and the primary resource that they thrived on: the salmon. The Nez Perce, NiMiiPuu, lived in the Columbia River basin for thousands of years. This existence was altered by the arrival of European settlers, and in 1855, the Nez Perce signed a treaty that defined an area over which they had jurisdiction and rights to the resources, including salmon, vital to their culture and survival. Since then salmon populations have declined. Dams and the resulting habitat degradation have had negative impacts on salmon survival. Some populations have been listed as endangered, and policies regarding how these fish are treated have complicated the recovery process. Recent efforts by the Nez Perce tribe, however, have shown that in spite of a mechanized river and political resistance, the river still has enough bounty to bring back a salmon run that was nearly extinct.

New!Your Tribal Land is Not Secure: Traditional Knowledge and Science Face Wildfire in the Valley of the Wild Roses

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff, PhD

Through the discussion of two tribal college students, this case begins an exploration of vulnerability and resilience after repeated and devastating fires as a result of drought and climate change at Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico. The Pueblo holds a rich store of traditional knowledge about the fire-prone ecosystems. This knowledge contributes to restoration efforts after a series of high-severity fires in the Jemez Mountains. Forested lands and wilderness shrines are lost, Santa Clara Creek and watershed suffer from erosion, and much of the Pueblo’s protected lands burned along with Pueblo archeological and cultural sites on public lands. Long ago, the Pueblo created a three zone management system that preserved the upper wild lands as a sacred source of water, protected the middle creek as an ancestral home, and created a homeland supported by sustainable agriculture in the Rio Grande Valley. Deep interviews and discussions with key tribal and western scientists provided sources for a case that explores how western science and Pueblo wisdom converge in interactions to restore around the Pueblo lands model.

New!Water Quality, Environment and Ethics Under Conditions of Climate Change: Who Speaks for the San Francisco Peaks?

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff

This case explores a place where religion, culture, politics and science intersected in the San Francisco Peaks controversy. The controversy began in 1908 when the Peaks first became part of the Forest Service system. When the Arizona Snowbowl, a private resort concession, came to the mountain, pressures grew: corporate owners saw limitations of profit-making proposals as an unfair limitation. Expansionary developments threatened the religion and cultural practices of 13 Arizona Tribes. Concern for pristine natural values associated with the Peaks deepened after designation of the Kachina Wilderness Area in 1984. Drought and climate change strained the mountain’s role in recharging the Inner Basin, and the ski resort’s existence. This case deals with the conflict of values around religion, water, scientific interpretation and land use under conditions of climate change.

New!Sustaining Oomingmak, Sustain Us: Alaska Natives and the Muskox Adapt to Social and Ecological Change

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff

This case explores evolutionary adaptation from biological and social-cultural perspectives. Evolutionary forces, including climate change, cultural, and economic change accelerate adaptation and underline the need for adjusting interactions between people and their environment. New relationships between the muskox (Obivos mochatus) and Alaska Natives are evolving. This case leads to questions about what science, economic institutions and traditional knowledge can do to support useful adaptations that contribute to healthy futures for the muskoxen and Alaska Natives. It raises further questions about the domestication of wild species and the impacts of climate change.

New!Pebbles of Gold or Salmon of Time: Pebble Mine and the Cultural and Environmental Economics of Alaska Natives

Author:Brian Footen

Alaska’s Bristol Bay is home to the most productive salmon runs in the world. For over 9,000 years, the indigenous people of the region have survived because of the salmon. In 2005 the Pebble Mine Project was proposed by the Pebble Partnership (PLP). The project proposal is to extract massive deposits of copper, gold and other minerals from the mountains making up the headwaters of Bristol Bay. The proposal has polarized people within the Native communities of the region. This case explores the trade off that is often made when jobs and profit are pitted against environmental protection.

Can the needs for environmental protection and biodiversity and the needs of indigenous people be reconciled?

Author:Robert S. Cole

This case addresses the tension between preserving land for biodiversity health and preserving land for the needs of indigenous peoples. It examines some of the organizations that work for land preservation for biodiversity throughout the world, but who often do not take into account the needs, concerns and rights of indigenous peoples who inhabit regions sought for preservation. The starting point for the case is the paper “A Challenge to Conservationists” by Mac Chapin, published by the Worldwatch Institute in its November/December 2004 publication World Watch. The case can be used to examine one instance of indigenous peoples fighting for a voice in land preservation campaigns, or any of a number of different indigenous peoples with these issues.

Alberta’s Oil Sands and the Rights of First Nations Peoples to Environmental Health

Author:Lori Lambert, PhD, DS

This case examines health and environmental issues of Alberta’s Cree First Nations and the rights of the Province of Alberta and lease-holders to develop the oil sands to extract petroleum. Although there are many environmental issues associated with the process of extracting the bitumen from the oil tar sands such as climate change, destruction of the boreal forest, and contamination of wetlands and muskegs, this case focuses on the tailings ponds and the environmental health issues that they are causing.

Tribal Response to Climate Change and the Evolving Ecosystem of Hood Canal: Learning from the Past to Plan for the Future

Author:Brian Footen

Hood Canal is a fjord forming the western arm of Puget Sound, Washington. Climate change has had a major influence on Hood Canal and the original indigenous people. Currently another major climactic shift is taking place in the region. Humans are forced to respond to changes in the ecosystem they inhabit. This case explores the relationship of paleo, archaic and modern native people to the past and present evolving ecosystem of Hood Canal. Cultural and economic adaptation will require utilizing political tools to try and reduce the impacts to the environment as well as recognizing new natural resource based economic opportunities.

Impacts of Global Climate Change on Tribes in Washington

Author:Rob Cole

This case study is an introduction to the potential impacts of global climate change on some of the tribal lands in Washington State. It explores specifically the impacts of sea level rise on tribal lands in coastal regions, or in the Puget Sound region. The case is based upon the scientific evidence for global climate change, and the measured sea level rise in Seattle over the past century. The case examines the effects of winter storm surges coupled with high tides, as well as the increased rate of severe winter storms and associated flooding in river and estuary regions. This case is designed as a ‘clicker case’ to be used in conjunction with interrupted lecture or interrupted workshop formats of presentation.

Impacts of Global Climate Change on Tribes in Washington Part II

Author:Rob Cole

This case study is an introduction to the potential impacts of global climate change on some of the tribal lands in Washington State. It explores specifically the impacts of sea level rise on tribal lands in coastal regions, or in the Puget Sound region. The case is based upon the scientific evidence for global climate change, and the measured sea level rise in Seattle over the past century. The case examines the effects of winter storm surges coupled with high tides, as well as the increased rate of severe winter storms and associated flooding in river and estuary regions. This case is designed as a ‘clicker case’ to be used in conjunction with interrupted lecture or interrupted workshop formats of presentation.

What are the Prospects for Energy Futures on Tribal Lands?

Author:Robert S. Cole

This case explores the scientific principles behind renewable energy conversion systems, including solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, and biofuel and biomass energies. The intent is to build a basis for understanding the current and potential future uses of renewable energies on tribal lands. The case suggests resources for students to investigate what tribes are already doing with the various types of renewable energies. The case also suggests resources for students to learn about the potential of renewable energy as a source of tribal employment, and to consider what training might be necessary for a career working with various types of renewable energy. This case is a research-based case that has the students doing work outside the classroom. The pedagogical method of this case is to break up a class of students into small groups, each of which will work on a different topic, or a different aspect of a given topic. For example, students might research and one of the following topics: solar power, wind power, biofuel and biomass production, energy conservation, or the energy management of tribal resource. The task for the students working in small groups is to research their topic, and to present their finding back to the class as a whole.

Addressing Climate Change at a Tribal Level

Author:Steve Robinson and Michael T. Alesko

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.

Climate Change Implications for the Quileute and Hoh Tribes

Author:Chelsie Papiez

Native peoples are the world’s early warning system that climate change is affecting human communities. Climate disruptions are impacting hardest on their place-based rights and way of life. On the northern coast of Washington State, Traditional Ecological Knowledge gathered through in-depth interviews strongly suggests climate change is impacting the reservations of the Quileute and Hoh peoples. Both Nations live on low-lying coastline, bordered on three sides by the Olympic National Park, and are susceptible to sea-level rise, extreme storm surge events, and shoreline erosion. Among the key impacts identified, TEK tells us that species range shifts in the ocean are becoming more common with the arrival of new warm water species. This change alone poses negative implications for Native and non-Native peoples.

Silak: Ice and Consciousness. The Arctic and Climate Change

Author:Lori Lambert, PhD

Climate change is the number one threat to the 22,000 polar bears that remain in the world. Currently, polar bears are suffering from a loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic. Polar bears are dependent upon an Arctic sea ice environment for their continued existence. As sea ice is being reduced in the Arctic, the polar bears’ basis for survival is being threatened. Because the sea ice is melting earlier in the spring, polar bears are being forced to the land without building up sufficient fat reserves to survive until the next freeze up. By the end of the summer they are skinny bears and in places like the Hudson Bay in Canada their ability to successfully raise a litter is being jeopardized. Inuit people are also affected by warming climate. Their way of life and their culture is based on sea ice.

Is Your Tribal Land Secure?

Author:Ralston, Larry, The Evergreen State College

This case tells the story of a longstanding land dispute between the Quileute Tribe and the Olympic National Park. The Tribe's search for a just solution is examined in the context of changing political and environmental circumstances. Emergency preparedness is an important dimension of this case which also highlights the ways in which disputes are negotiated and the various considerations at play.