finding 12.2 : native-life-affected-by-water-change

A significant decrease in water quality and quantity due to a variety of factors, including climate change, is affecting drinking water, food, and cultures. Native communities’ vulnerabilities and limited capacity to adapt to water-related challenges are exacerbated by historical and contemporary government policies and poor socioeconomic conditions.

This finding is from chapter 12 of Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment.

Process for developing key messages: A central component of the assessment process was participation by members of the Chapter Author Team in a number of climate change meetings attended by indigenous peoples and other interested parties, focusing on issues relevant to tribal and indigenous peoples. These meetings included: Oklahoma Inter-Tribal Meeting on Climate Variability and Change held on December 12, 2011, at the National Weather Center, Norman, OK, attended by 73 people.7fbb768c-d8cf-48a5-88b4-dddb6d254013 Indigenous Knowledge and Education (IKE) Hui Climate Change and Indigenous Cultures forum held in January 2012 in Hawai‘i and attended by 36 people.a55e1352-b4c6-42f8-bafa-a920c9e1107b Alaska Forum on the Environment held from February 6-10, 2012, at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, and attended by about 1400 people with approximately 30 to 60 people per session.0808ea70-a152-4f50-abda-90370beb3632 Stories of Change: Coastal Louisiana Tribal Communities’ Experiences of a Transforming Environment, a workshop held from January 22-27, 2012, in Pointe-au-Chein, Louisiana, and attended by 47 people.bbc3c75e-6c21-4e60-8285-514cde885865 American Indian Alaska Native Climate Change Working Group 2012 Spring Meeting held from April 23–24, 2012, at the Desert Diamond Hotel-Casino in Tucson, Arizona, and attended by 80 people.2d423414-dc26-4edc-85e0-6f99bdc6283c

Description of evidence base: The key message and supporting chapter text summarizes extensive evidence documented in more than 200 technical input reports on a wide range of topics that were received and reviewed as part of the Federal Register Notice solicitation for public input. There are numerous examples of tribal observations of changes in precipitation, rainfall patterns, and storm intensity and impacts on surface water features, agriculture, grazing, medicinal and culturally important plants and animals, and water resources.6848eec2-534b-4629-967c-53d8530089a3 debdf209-4050-4706-965c-09cff7ec353b 55866e23-04c0-406a-aee0-6df58cde18be 842903de-6ded-43d7-9f25-19149a85349e 94694c3f-1703-4387-b6e7-114a8d04e3de e061ef38-98af-418f-8a2a-6a60fabda25e 953476ae-1357-48a5-99d8-1daf963f0a3c 7bc1ebe9-955f-4c9f-a54c-f718e354d5ca bc2f63ad-916f-466f-9c79-f3304447e3a2 9711f2e3-f3b1-4d25-bc0a-47fd17b56e41 9f68d45c-f1ef-41f9-8593-b848ad8e08bb c1162288-6379-4b60-b573-d0f8482d8fa0 Examples of ceremonies are included in the Oklahoma Inter-Tribal Meeting on Climate Variability and Change Meeting Summary Report.7fbb768c-d8cf-48a5-88b4-dddb6d254013 Water is used for some ceremonies, so it can be problematic when there is not enough at the tribe’s disposal.e061ef38-98af-418f-8a2a-6a60fabda25e 7fbb768c-d8cf-48a5-88b4-dddb6d254013 c1162288-6379-4b60-b573-d0f8482d8fa0 More than one tribe at the meeting also expressed how heat has been a problem during ceremonies because the older citizens cannot go into lodges that lack air conditioning.7fbb768c-d8cf-48a5-88b4-dddb6d254013

New information and remaining uncertainties: There is limited data to establish baseline climatic conditions on tribal lands, and many tribes do not have sufficient capacity to monitor changing conditions.a5871479-b466-4af9-8cf6-6a5f8f94dd39 e061ef38-98af-418f-8a2a-6a60fabda25e bc2f63ad-916f-466f-9c79-f3304447e3a2 c1162288-6379-4b60-b573-d0f8482d8fa0 Without monitoring, tribal decision-makers lack the data needed to quantify and evaluate the current conditions and emerging trends in precipitation, streamflow, and soil moisture, and to plan and manage resources accordingly.a5871479-b466-4af9-8cf6-6a5f8f94dd39 e061ef38-98af-418f-8a2a-6a60fabda25e 9711f2e3-f3b1-4d25-bc0a-47fd17b56e41 c1162288-6379-4b60-b573-d0f8482d8fa0 Water infrastructure is in disrepair or lacking on some reservations.94694c3f-1703-4387-b6e7-114a8d04e3de 5552509e-9af3-46dd-8920-78083bee05bc There is an overall lack of financial resources to support basic water infrastructure on tribal lands, such as is found in the Southwest.bc2f63ad-916f-466f-9c79-f3304447e3a2 Tribes that rely on water resources to maintain their cultures, religions, and life ways are especially vulnerable to climate change. Monitoring data is needed to establish baseline climatic conditions and to monitor changing conditions on tribal lands. Uncertainty associated with undefined tribal water rights makes it difficult to determine strategies to deal with water resource issues.5552509e-9af3-46dd-8920-78083bee05bc

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: Based on the evidence and remaining uncertainties, confidence is very high that decreases in water quality and quantity are affecting Native Americans and Alaska Natives’ drinking water supplies, food, cultures, ceremonies, and traditional ways of life. Based upon extensive evidence, there is very high confidence that Native communities’ vulnerabilities and lack of capacity to adapt to climate change are exacerbated by historical and contemporary federal and state land-use policies and practices, political marginalization, legal issues associated with tribal water rights, water infrastructure deficiencies, and poor socioeconomic conditions. Chapter 12: Indigenous Peoples, Lands, and Resources Key Message Process: See key message #1.

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