Tribal Nations are recognized as sovereign nations and that have inherent power to govern all matters involving tribal members and issues in Indian Country. In the United States there are 573 federally recognized Indian Nations (also called Tribes, Nations, Pueblos, Native Villages, Communities, and Pueblos) as well as a number of Tribal Nations recognized by states within the United States. Tribal communities rely on farms, forests, rangelands, as well as 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 affect 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