Skip to main content

Northwest and Alaskan Tribal Nations and Climate Change

Native American and Alaska Natives are indigenous people of the United States. In the Northwest, there are 44 federally recognized Native American Nations and in Alaska over 200 Alaska Native tribal entities. In addition to these nations, state governments have recognized other tribes. Tribal communities rely on farms, forests, rangelands, and freshwater and marine ecosystems for culture, heritage, and food security. Many tribal communities and fundamental ways of life are vulnerable to climate change as it will effect food harvest, preparation, consumption, as well as spiritual practices. Climate change is already affecting Native communities. These communities have a cultural history of adapting to change, but are vulnerable to these rapid changes.

Tribal cultures and economies reflect intimate interdependencies between place, environment, natural resources, and people which make their communities highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Transgenerational knowledge systems provide a rich source of observational changes over extended periods of time, traditional management practices, and a history of experiential approaches to adaptation to change, and information that can identify and interpret the significance of local manifestations of environmental stressors. Tribes are developing risk assessments and adaptation plans to identify values and address risks unique to their own communities.  Information systems are being designed and developed to support tribal engagement in the development and implementation of policies, programs, and projects to address climate concerns.”      – Gary Morishima, Quinault Tribe

Vulnerability assessments:

Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples: A Synthesis of Current Impacts and Experiences

2018 National Climate Assessment 4: Tribes and Indigenous Peoples

2014 National Climate Assessment 3: Indigenous Peoples, Land, and Resources

Climate Change and Our Natural Resources: A Report from the Treaty Tribes in Western Washington

Collection of adaptation resources for Tribal Nations: 

Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Network's Guide

Indigenous Climate Change & Climate Justice Teaching Materials & Advanced Bibliography

Get involved with the Local Environmental Observers (LEO) Network hub located within the Northwest Indian College (NWIC) in Lummi Nation in Washington State.

ADAPT Alaska-Living with Climate Change in Alaska. Provides information, stories, resources on changes occuring in Alaska and adaptation strategies, particularly for Native Alaskans in coastal communities.