finding 22.5 : key-message-22-5

Indigenous peoples of the Northern Great Plains are at high risk from a variety of climate change impacts, especially those resulting from hydrological changes, including changes in snowpack, seasonality and timing of precipitation events, and extreme flooding and droughts as well as melting glaciers and reduction in streamflows (likely, very high confidence). These changes are already resulting in harmful impacts to tribal economies, livelihoods, and sacred waters and plants used for ceremonies, medicine, and subsistence (very high confidence). At the same time, many tribes have been very proactive in adaptation and strategic climate change planning (very likely, very high confidence).



This finding is from chapter 22 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

The chapter lead (CL) and coordinating lead author (CLA) developed a list of potential contributing authors by soliciting suggestions from the past National Climate Assessment (NCA) author team, colleagues and collaborators throughout the region, and contributors to other regional reports. Our initial list of potential authors also included CL nominees submitted to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The CL and CLA discussed the Northern Great Plains, which was part of the larger Great Plains region for the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3), with each of these nominees and, as part of that discussion, solicited suggestions for other nominees. This long list of potential contributing authors was pared down by omitting individuals who could not contribute in a timely fashion, and the list was finalized after reconciliation against key themes within the region identified by past NCA authors, the CL and CLA, and contributing author nominees. The team of contributing authors was selected to represent the region geographically and thematically, but participants from some states who had agreed to contribute were eventually unable to do so. Others were unable to contribute from the start. The author team is mostly composed of authors who did not contribute to NCA3.

The CL and CLA, in consultation with past NCA authors and contributing author nominees, identified an initial list of focal areas of regional importance. The author team then solicited input from colleagues and regional experts (identified based on their deep ties to scientific and practitioner communities across the region) on their thoughts on focal areas. This list informed the agenda of a region-wide meeting held on February 22, 2017, with core locations in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Rapid City, South Dakota. The main purpose of this meeting was to seek feedback on the proposed list of focal areas. With this feedback, the author team was able to refine our focal areas to the five themes comprising the Key Messages of the Northern Great Plains regional chapter. Of these, recreation/tourism is a focus area that is new from NCA3.

Description of evidence base:

Multiple lines of research have shown that hydrological changes and changes in extremes have resulted in deleterious impacts to Indigenous peoples.5f9a3ea9-c2f0-44dc-916a-d3aab217c58d,a6bffe05-13b9-41cb-bea4-c1297f14d011,88a5315d-074d-4918-9118-b30e828de06d,84368091-876c-4474-93de-50d64e88cf56,a367fcae-9849-4852-9e31-6592109e3f0a,48541a92-1e3e-4539-8122-c802cee93e4a,32a621bf-5225-47a3-b7df-559443b3486e,781e2a22-a070-4b3b-be41-78c2273b7c40,775142cd-939a-4842-9958-712d6bfbc161,a488f043-9fd1-48de-8036-4366956a1c61,01175f65-4526-4c86-b79b-2010b825d4e7 During times of drought, decreased water availability negatively impacts tribal communities and livelihoods such as ranching, and already stressed water systems and infrastructure do not provide the necessary water to sustain Indigenous communities and reservations.84368091-876c-4474-93de-50d64e88cf56,32a621bf-5225-47a3-b7df-559443b3486e,6eef5a47-4a5e-4d07-88d4-b3cdff9bf9a0

New information and remaining uncertainties:

The impacts of climate change in the Northern Great Plains are expected to increase risks to Indigenous reservations, communities, and livelihoods. However, there is uncertainty about how Indigenous people will be able to respond. Much of this uncertainty is due to unsettled water rights, multijurisdictional complexities, and federal funding and policies.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

There is very high confidence that rising temperature and increases in flooding, runoff events, and drought are likely to lead to increases in impacts to reservations and other Indigenous communities. There is very high confidence that climate changes are already resulting in harmful impacts on tribal economies, livelihoods, and culture. However, the actual impacts and response capacities will depend on the response of regulatory systems and funding amounts.

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