||University of Oregon Environmental Studies Program:
Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Project
The University of Oregon's Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Project (TCCP) was created in 2009 to build an
understanding of the issues that American Indian and Alaska Native tribes face in addressing climate change.
According to researchers from the TCCP, "the environmental impacts of climate change and some of the proposed
solutions threaten ways of life, subsistence, land rights, future growth, cultural survivability, and financial
resources" of tribes throughout the U.S. The TCCP provides support to tribes on a variety of climate change
topics including mitigation and adaptation strategies, natural resource management, climate change policy, and social
equity. The project is a collaboration between the University of Oregon's Environmental Studies Program and the USDA
Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station.
primary objective of the project is to foster meaningful opportunities for tribes to have a voice in the development
of climate change strategies at the national, regional, state or local level. The lack of these opportunities demonstrates
a fundamental inequity in climate change issues that has prompted the TCCP to adopt innovative mechanisms for increased
tribal involvement in climate policy and programs. In their efforts to foster meaningful involvement, the TCCP conducts
research and develops resources to assist tribal, inter-tribal, governmental agencies and NGOs in addressing the impacts
of climate change on tribes in the United States. The TCCP convenes the Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Network,
publishes tribal climate change profiles, and generates research publications. In addition, the organization has hosted
training events for tribal environmental and natural resource professionals. A brief overview on each of these initiatives
is provided below. For more information, please visit the Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Program website at:
Key Research Areas
1. Climate change impacts on tribal culture and sovereignty
The TCCP is actively working to mainstream and broaden the dialogue related to the impacts of climate change on tribal
culture and sovereignty. The team recently released a draft report, which examines federal consultation policies in
a climate change context. This report seeks to demonstrate the importance of the government-to-government relationships
in addressing issues pertaining to climate change, including consultation, as well as collaborative approaches between
federal agencies and tribes.
Understanding the role of traditional ecological knowledge in addressing climate change
Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), the indigenous way of knowing, has the potential to play a central role in
both indigenous and nonindigenous climate change initiatives. The detection of environmental changes, the development
of strategies to adapt to these changes, and the implementation of sustainable land-management principles are all
important climate action items that can be informed by TEK. Although there is a significant body of literature on
traditional knowledge, the TCCP has focused on the relationship between TEK and climate change. To that end, the
TCCP recently developed a paper examining these issues and describing the potential role of TEK in climate change
assessment and adaptation efforts. Publication of this report, Exploring the Role of Traditional Ecological
Knowledge in Climate Change Initiatives, is forthcoming.
The Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Network
The PNW Tribal Climate Change Network was created in 2009 as the result of a need for increased communication and
coordination among tribes in the Pacific Northwest about climate change issues identified during two tribal climate
change workshops held in Oregon. Since 2009, the network has served as a setting for tribal leaders and staff, as
well as non-tribal organizations, to discuss and provide input on matters related to climate change. Inaugurated in
2009, the Network fosters communication between tribes, agencies, and other entities about climate change policies,
programs, and research needs pertaining to tribes and climate change. Currently, the network has over 50 participating
organizations from tribal, public, academic, and non-profit sectors.
The TCCP team has produced numerous tribal profiles as a means of showcasing both the challenges climate change
poses to tribal communities, and the innovative adaptation and mitigation strategies that have been adopted by
tribes across the country. Each profile details the efforts of individual tribes who are redefining the capacity
for development of climate change solutions. The profiles address a host of climate-induced environmental changes
as well as the regionally specific solutions that are being applied to address the impacts of climate change.
To date, the TCCP team has produced 10 tribal profiles:
- Vulnerability of Coastal Louisiana Tribes in a Climate Change Context
- First Stewards Symposium: Coastal Peoples Address Climate Change
- Siletz Tribal Energy Program
- Karuk Tribe: Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge within Natural Resource Management
- First Foods and Climate Change
- The Lummi Nation: Pursuing Clean Renewable Energy
- Climate Change: Realities of Relocation for Alaska Native Villages
- Swinomish Climate Change Initiative: At the Forefront of Planning for Climate Change
- Climate Change and the Coquille Indian Tribe: Planning for the Effects of Climate Change and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Nez Perce Tribe: Carbon Sequestration Program
The tribal profiles are available on the TCCP website:
well as on the Tribes & Climate Change website that is maintained by the Institute for Tribal Environmental
Professionals at Northern Arizona University: http://www4.nau.edu/tribalclimatechange/.
publications produced by the TCCP group are publically available and downloadable at http://tribalclimate.uoregon.edu/publications/.
- Fostering Tribal Engagement in Climate Science Centers and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (Draft publication released in October, 2012)
This publication describes the policy language related to tribal engagement in Climate Science Centers (CSC)
and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC), examines the Government-to-Government relationship in context
of CSCs and LCCs, and discusses the benefits to Tribes and the federal government in having strong tribal
engagement in these initiatives. The paper is intended to foster dialogue about the need for and opportunities
to meaningfully engage Tribes in the implementation of these initiatives.
- Tribal Climate Change Funding Guide
The Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Project at the University of Oregon and the Environmental Protection
Agency, Region 10 Tribal Program Office developed this guide collaboratively. The guide is intended to provide
up-to-date information on grants that may assist tribes in addressing climate change through a broad range of
sectors. To access this guide, visit: http://envs.uoregon.edu/tribal-climate/.
- Exploring the Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Climate Change Initiatives
This synthesis explores the role of TEK in climate change assessments, planning and management. The report includes
various examples of indigenous groups, agencies and organizations incorporating TEK into various types of
research, education and resource planning efforts. This paper will be published by the USDA Forest Service
as a General Technical Report in 2013.
- The Government-to-Government Relationship in a Changing Climate: A review of federal consultation policies
This report examines the scope of federal consultation policies in the context of climate change and highlights
specific policies that have the potential to strengthen federal-tribal efforts to address climate change.
- A Guide for Tribal Leaders on U.S. Climate Change Programs
This guide summarizes key U.S. government programs addressing climate change, opportunities for tribal engagement,
and contacts for each agency. The guide also includes tribal, academic, and non-governmental agencies and
programs to assist tribes in addressing climate change.
- Social Vulnerability and Equity in the United States in the Context of Climate Change
This synthesis of literature illustrates information about the socioeconomic, political, health, and cultural
effects of climate change on socially vulnerable populations in the United States, with some additional
examples in Canada. Through this synthesis, social vulnerability, equity, and climate justice are defined and
described, and key issues, themes, and considerations that pertain to the effects of climate change on socially
vulnerable populations are identified. The synthesis reviews what available science says about social
vulnerability and climate change and documents the emergence of issues not currently addressed in academic literature.
Tribal Climate Change Project Events
Peoples and Climate Change Symposiums – May 2012 and April 2013
In May 2012, the University of Oregon hosted a student-focused symposium on indigenous peoples and climate change. The
conference and pursuant dialogue sparked great interest among students, faculty and members of the community in
understanding the issues facing indigenous peoples from climate change. The symposium on Indigenous Peoples and Climate
Change focused on the disproportionate impacts facing indigenous peoples in the Americas, as well as the strategies and
innovative solutions that American Indian and Alaska Native tribes are developing in their communities.
The event featured keynote addresses by Dr. Daniel Wildcat from Haskell Indian Nations University and Larry Merculieff
with Seven Generations Consulting. The conference focused on facilitating interaction and increasing knowledge among
native and non-native communities on climate change, environmental, and cultural issues. The conference fostered
discourse between indigenous leaders and students and placed issues about climate change and indigenous peoples into
a comparative international context (by focusing on issues throughout the Americas). Finally, the conference provided
opportunities for undergraduate students to present research and gain professional experience.
In recognition of the growing interest in understanding the issues facing indigenous people from climate change, the
University of Oregon will host a second symposium in April 2013 featuring Dr. Frank Kanawha Lake, Research Ecologist
with the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station and Dr. Kyle Powys Whyte of Michigan State University.
The keynote address will bring together University students, faculty, and members of the community to examine climate
impacts on indigenous peoples and climate change.
For more information on these events, visit:
October 2009: Tribal Climate Change Forum
The Tribal Climate Change Forum focused on the role of tribal sovereignty and tribal needs as well as on opportunities
in climate change policy and action. The event was held in Eugene, Oregon and was convened by the USDA Forest Service
Pacific Northwest Research Station and the University of Oregon Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program.
Proceedings from this forum are available at:
September 2009: Tribal Climate Change Policy Training
The TCCP Training convened tribal decision-makers and staff from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Northern California to
provide education on the technical aspects of climate change policy, as well as the opportunities that tribes have
to engage in climate change policy and action at tribal, national, and international levels. The training was held
at the University of Oregon in Portland and convened by Sustainable Northwest, the USDA Forest Service Pacific
Northwest Research Station, and the University of Oregon.
For more information:
Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Project website:
Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Project, Tribal Profiles:
Tribal Climate Change Project Coordinator
Environmental Studies Program
University of Oregon
Photos courtesy of the University of Oregon Tribal Climate Change Project.
Cristina González-Maddux, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, and Matt Cohen, Climate Change
Program Assistant, developed this profile for the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals. This profile
was created with support from USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.
The profile is available on the Tribes & Climate Change website: www4.nau.edu/tribalclimatechange/.
The tribal climate change profiles featured on the website are intended to be a pathway to increasing knowledge among
tribal and non-tribal organizations interested in learning about climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
For more information, contact: