Tribal Profiles

Tribes across the United States are leading the way with innovative efforts to address climate change through adaptation and mitigation strategies.  The Tribal Climate Change Profiles 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. The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals also publishes these profiles, as well as additional profiles they generate on their Tribes & Climate Change website:

Moving Forward Together: Building Tribal Resiliency and PartnershipThe four member tribes of the Upper Snake River Tribes Foundation collaborated on a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment, resulting in a quantified assessment of their shared concerns and establishment of a common foundation for future adaptation efforts. In 2016, the Upper Snake River Tribes Foundation undertook a collaborative Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA), partnering with external groups Adaptation International, the University of Washington, and Oregon State University. The project evaluated the relative climate change vulnerability of some of the species, habitats, and resource issues that are important and valuable to USRT member tribes. This profile is posted on the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit:

The Karuk’s Innate Relationship with Fire: Adapting to Climate Change on the Klamath  The Karuk Tribe is a federally recognized Indian Tribe that has maintained occupancy and use of its aboriginal lands along the middle course of the Klamath and Salmon Rivers in Northern California. The Tribe’s Aboriginal Territory has been previously mapped and includes an estimated 1.48 million acres, within the Klamath River Basin. Wildland systems in the Klamath River range have evolved alongside Karuk management practices for thousands of years. Since European contact, non-native use and management of the region has severely impacted Karuk people’s access to cultural, ceremonial, and food resources. Climate change has exacerbated the effects of non-native mismanagement and the Karuk are experiencing a decline in the abundance of key species such as salmon, acorns, huckleberries, hazel, and willow. This profile explores traditional Karuk fire use, traditional ecological knowledge and the need for knowledge sovereignty, as well as the Karuk climate vulnerability assessment. This profile is also featured on the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit here.

Nooksack Indian Tribe: Rivers and Glaciers —Keeping salmon and the ecosystem healthy in light of climate change and distressed ecosystems. In response to concerns about the Nooksack River and the glaciers that drain into it, the Nooksack Indian Tribe is undertaking efforts to address climate change and its impacts on Nooksack Usual and Accustomed lands and its people. Specifically, the Tribe is exploring climate impacts facing their lands as a way to address the continued health of salmon: riparian ecosystem health, stream and river temperatures, sediment loading in the watershed, and impacts of climate change on glaciers and the hydrology of the Nooksack River. Salmon in the Nooksack River are already severely stressed by a variety of factors including wide scale-watershed alteration by forest practices, channelization of the river, pollution and human-induced habitat loss. Climate impacts, therefore, have the potential to cause major additional harm to salmonid populations in the Nooksack River.  Mitigating the impacts of climate change is therefore an integral part of ensuring that the Nooksack watershed is able to continue supporting salmon at harvestable levels. This profile draws on the work of the Nooksack Indian Tribe to address climate change impacts on the hydrology of the Nooksack River and salmon survival and recovery.

Nez Perce Tribe: Clearwater River Subbasin Climate Change Adaptation PlanIn an effort to prepare for changes to their homelands’ ecology, the Nez Perce Tribe’s Water Resources Division created a climate change adaptation plan for the Clearwater River Subbasin in 2011. The plan focuses on climate impacts to water and forestry resources, two areas of natural resource management that are both culturally and economically important to the Nez Perce Tribe. The adaptation plan includes an assessment of existing conditions in the subbasin, and data on how changes in climate may impact forests, waters, and the local economy. This profile highlights the efforts of the Nez Perce Tribe to increase awareness of climate change issues in their region through this plan, as well as their strategies for integrating adaptation into existing and future management plans.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes: Climate Change Strategic Plan
In response to growing concerns about the impacts of climate change on tribal members and on their homelands, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have developed a Climate Change Strategic Plan. The Tribes worked with several partners, including Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee, Kootenai Culture Committee, Next Seven Group LLC, the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC), the Kresge Foundation, and the Roundtable of the Crown Continent Adaptive Management Initiative, to develop a plan to inform the tribal policy and actions moving forward. This plan brings together the knowledge of elders with scientific observations to document existing impacts and prepare for future changes.

 Jamestown S’Klallam Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan
In order to promote climate resilience in their community, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has developed a Climate Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan. Drawing on an Environmental Protection Agency Indian General Assistance Program (IGAP) grant, and in collaboration with Adaptation International and Washington Sea Grant, the Tribe developed a plan that addresses sea level rise, ocean acidification, salmon health, natural disasters and shifts in species ranges. The plan drew on input from tribal leaders, elders and technical staff to ensure that tribal concerns were considered. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe sees climate adaptation as a process, not an outcome; this plan is part of an ongoing effort by the Tribe to prepare for climate impacts on their community.

The Swinomish Tribe and Tsleil Waututh First Nation
Correlation and Climate Sensitivity of Human Health and Environmental Indicators in the Salish Sea

In 2012, the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative awarded over $300,000 to seven projects aimed at increasing the use of TEK in climate change adaptation and natural and cultural management. The Swinomish Tribe and Tsleil Waututh First Nation, two peoples of the Salish Sea, collaborated together on one of these projects. By bringing together data on environmental, cultural and human health impacts, the project partners are refining their understanding about what areas within their communities may be most sensitive to climate impacts. In doing so, the Swinomish Tribe and Tsleil Waututh First Nation are gaining a more complete understanding of how climate change may affect their communities. This innovative approach builds upon previous work done by the Swinomish Tribe and has potential as a model for other tribal communities aiming to better understand climate impacts to their people and homelands.

South Central Climate Science Center: Tribal Climate Change Variability Workshops
In the South Central US, particularly severe climate impacts are projected to occur. With support from the South Central Climate Science Center (SCCSC) and Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP), the University of Oklahoma (OU) hosted a series of five intertribal workshops on climate impacts. Paulette Blanchard, a Master’s candidate at OU who played an instrumental role in organizing the workshops, brought together native filmmakers with tribal participants to discuss ways that native people can document their experiences and challenges with climate impacts. These workshops also provided an opportunity for tribes and governmental agencies such as the SCCSC to establish working relationships.

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians: Climate Change and Environmental Management Programs
Concerned about the effects of climate change on their homeland and surrounding environment, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians have taken numerous steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change on tribal peoples, land, and resources. This profile describes the climate change programs implemented by the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office and the Chumash Casino Resort to address climate change adaptation and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Indigenous Peoples and Northwest Climate Initiatives: Exploring the Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Resource Management
In 2012, the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NPLCC) and the Northwest Climate Science Center (NW CSC) awarded funds to seven projects that facilitate the use of traditional ecological knowledge to help inform natural and cultural resource management. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided funds to the NPLCC for these projects, with two of the projects co-sponsored by the Northwest Climate Science Center. This profile is the first step in an ongoing effort to share information about these tribally led projects. It provides information on each of the grants awarded to tribes and First Nations in the NPLCC, and includes an overview of the NPLCC and the NW CSC. The profile showcases projects and shares the diverse ways in which tribal, First Nations and Alaska Native communities are gathering TEK, integrating this knowledge into resource management, and addressing gaps in climate change information.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Healthy Ecosystems Summit
In August 2012, the Snoqualmie Tribe of Washington celebrated indigenous knowledge systems by hosting the Traditional Knowledge and Healthy Ecosystems Summit. The Summit, held at the Skamania Lodge near Stevenson, WA, brought together indigenous leaders, tribal members, resource managers, academics and students to discuss and learn about the importance of traditional knowledge in natural resource management and in everyday ways of life. Participants came from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and British Columbia to partake in the various presentations, roundtables, panels, and workshops that formed part of this event. This profile describes some of the highlights from the event, including talks from keynote speakers Daniel Wildcat and Larry Merculiefff, storytelling by elders, presentations on traditional knowledge in contemporary resource management and indigenous health, and field trips featuring traditional sites and activities.

Vulnerability of Coastal Louisiana Tribes in a Climate Change Context
Living among the bayous in southern Louisiana, coastal tribes have a long history of vulnerability to and impacts from a range of environmental and human-caused events, including storms, subsidence, land sinking and shrinking, sea-level rise and oil spills. These events have posed uncommon challenges to these indigenous communities. In January 2012, several tribal communities from coastal Louisiana (including Grand Bayou Village, Grand Caillou/Dulac, Isle de Jean Charles and Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribes) met to “share knowledge, support, cultural connectivity and adaption strategies” in response to the significant environmental changes they face. This meeting, convened by the tribes and attended by the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), brought together local tribal members, national tribal leaders, faith leaders, government agency representatives, and resource specialists to share information on the various opportunities, resources, and programs available to tribal communities experiencing the impacts of large-scale environmental change.  This profile explores the ways in which climate change may exacerbate the challenges already facing coastal Louisiana tribes and potential strategies to assist these tribes in addressing their vulnerability. 

First Stewards Symposium: Coastal Peoples Address Climate Change 
In July 2012, four coastal treaty tribes from Washington State: the Hoh, Makah, and Quileute Tribes and Quinault Indian Nation, hosted the First Stewards Symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC in recognition of the rapid changes coastal tribes are experiencing from climate change and changes in marine ecosystems. The Symposium convened coastal people from across the United States to discuss the impacts of climate change and strategies for mitigation and adaptation.  Tribal leaders, governmental and non-governmental agency representatives, academics, and non-profit indigenous advocates came together to demonstrate the impacts of climate change in regions throughout the U.S. and its territories and how indigenous adaptations to climate change can guide society moving forward. The Symposium emphasized strategies to promote actions in society-at-large to adapt to climate change and discussed the opportunity for native people to be leaders and provide models for other native and non-native communities. The First Stewards Symposium led to a resolution illustrating the impacts of climate change on traditional ways of life and culture and calling for the formal recognition and inclusion of indigenous communities in the formation of policies, management and other government action. This profile highlights the speakers, issues and outcomes from the First Stewards Symposium.

Siletz Tribal Energy Program
The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, located on the Oregon coast, have created an innovative renewable energy program. The Siletz Tribal Planning Department created the Siletz Tribal Energy Program (STEP) through a grant from the Administration for Native Americans in 2009. STEP works within the tribal community to encourage efficient energy use and reduced energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Much of their work is focused on improving tribal buildings and homes. STEP prioritizes community involvement as a way to increase awareness of tribal members, promote skills-training in the tribal community and promote tribal independence in energy; tribal outreach is a major aspect of STEP’s work. This profile examines the ranges of their programs, including weatherization and energy efficiency, conservation, renewable power and solar.

Karuk Tribe: Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge within Natural Resource Management
Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) plays a significant role in the Karuk Tribe’s approach to natural resource management, which is guided by a respect for the relationships between species, their habitats and the belief that fostering ecosystem resilience is critical to ensuring sustainability. In 2010, the Karuk Tribe released a draft Eco-Cultural Resources Management Plan to create a long-term adaptation strategy for the protection, enhancement and utilization of cultural and natural resources. The Eco-Cultural Resources Management Plan establishes a framework for considering a wide range of human and environmental stressors to the Karuk Tribe, including climate change. This profile explores the role of traditional ecological knowledge in the Karuk Tribe’s Eco-Cultural Resource Management Plan, the ways in which this unique approach may contribute to tribal efforts to address climate change, and the importance of the federal-tribal relationship in addressing climate change.

First Foods and Climate Change (Download First Foods Profile)
Indigenous populations in North America face significant threats from climate change. One area of great concern is how first foods will be impacted by climate change. Because of the vital role that first foods play in the physical, mental and spiritual health of native communities, impacts from climate change on first foods may negatively affect tribal culture and livelihood.  This profile explores the challenges that indigenous peoples face in maintaining their historically important relationships with first foods in the context of climate change. The profile also outlines the impacts that climate change may have on many first foods, describes challenges facing indigenous peoples in continuing their relationship with first foods, and explore ways in which they have adapted or responded to these challenges. Also available at:

The Lummi Nation: Pursuing Clean Renewable Energy (Download Lummi Nation Profile)
The Lummi Nation has launched a number of renewable energy projects to reduce its environmental impact and to contribute to its goal of energy self-sufficiency. These projects include conducting a wind energy development feasibility assessment, lighting a walking trail with solar LEDs, installing a geothermal heat pump system for a new administrative building, and developing a strategic energy plan to coordinate future efforts.  This profile provides detailed information on the wind energy development feasibility assessment project and also examines the opportunities and motivation that inspired the Lummi Nation to explore the options for renewable energy on their tribal lands. Also available at:

Climate Change: Realities of Relocation for Alaska Native Villages (Download Alaska Native Relocation Profile)
As temperatures across the Arctic rise at twice the global average, the impacts of climate change in Alaska are already being felt (IPCC 2007). Alaska Natives are among the most impacted in this region, and, according to the Government Accountability Office in 2004, flooding and erosion affected 86% of Alaska Native villages to some extent, and by 2009, the GAO reported that flooding and erosion imminently threatened thirty-one villages. This profile examines the challenges of relocation and offers examples from three Alaska Native villages working to protect their people, culture and natural resources.
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Swinomish Climate Change Initiative: At the Forefront of Planning for Climate Change (Download Swinomish Profile)
In 2007, the Swinomish Tribe passed a climate change proclamation in response to growing concerns about potential impacts of climate change on the Swinomish Indian Reservation. This profile highlights the projected climate change impacts on the tribe, the tribe’s planning process for the impact assessment and action plan development, as well as key partners and project successes and challenges.
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Climate Change and the Coquille Indian Tribe: Planning for the Effects of Climate Change and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Download Coquille Profile)
In 2008, the Coquille Indian Tribe established a Climate Change Committee to engage tribal government, tribal members, and natural and cultural resource managers in the development of a Climate Change Action Plan. This profile highlights key concerns and potential climate change impacts to the Coquille Tribe, and initial tribal strategies to address climate change. 
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Nez Perce Tribe: Carbon Sequestration Program (Download Nez Perce Profile)
In the 1990’s, the Nez Perce Forestry & Fire Management Division began developing a carbon offset strategy to market Carbon Sequestration Credits. This profile describes the tribe’s initial trial afforestation project, and their strategies for reinvesting revenue from the sale of carbon to invest in additional afforestation projects, wildlife rehabilitation and forest development. 
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