Current challenges facing southwestern tribes in confronting climate change

Friday, July 26th, 2013 7pm
Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, AZ

Speaker: Dr. Margaret Hiza-Redsteer (Convening Lead Author, Chapter 17)

Title: Current challenges facing southwestern tribes in confronting climate change

Description: An overwhelming scientific consensus has emerged in recent decades that human activities are causing considerable changes to our climate. Among the changes already observed are higher temperatures, altered timing and amount of stream flow in our rivers, warming oceans, and melting polar ice sheets. These trends will continue even if significant policy changes are made, and they will grow much worse if we do little or nothing to address the problem. Vulnerability to climate change impacts is higher for southwestern tribes than that for most groups because the risks are closely linked to endangered cultural practices, history, water rights, and socio-economic and political marginalization, characteristics that most Indigenous people share. Impacts on Native lands and communities are anticipated to be both early and severe due to their location in marginal environments. Because Native American societies are socially, culturally, and politically unique, conventional climate change adaptation planning and related policies could result in unintended consequences or conflicts with Native American governments, or could prove to be inadequate if tribal consultation is not considered. Moreover, traditional tribal practices and relationships with the natural world form the spiritual, cultural, and economic foundation for many Native American nations—foundations that will be, and in some cases already are, threatened by climate change. 


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