finding 15.1 : key-message-15-1

Climate change threatens Indigenous peoples’ livelihoods and economies, including agriculture, hunting and gathering, fishing, forestry, energy, recreation, and tourism enterprises (very high confidence). Indigenous peoples’ economies rely on, but face institutional barriers to, their self-determined management of water, land, other natural resources, and infrastructure (high confidence) that will be impacted increasingly by changes in climate (likely, high confidence).



This finding is from chapter 15 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

The report authors developed this chapter through technical discussions of relevant evidence and expert deliberation via several meetings, teleconferences, and email exchanges between the spring of 2016 and June 2017. The authors considered inputs and comments submitted by the public in response to the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s (USGCRP) Federal Register Notices, as well as public input provided through regional engagement workshops and engagement webinars. The author team also considered comments provided by experts within federal agencies through a formal interagency review process.

Additional efforts to solicit input for the chapter were undertaken in 2016–2017. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) worked with partners, the College of Menominee Nation, and the Salish Kootenai College to develop and execute an outreach plan for the chapter. This included awarding mini-grants for community meetings in the fall of 2016 and attending and presenting at tribally focused meetings such as the American Indian Higher Education Consortium 2016 Student Conference (March 2016), the Annual National Conference of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society (May 2016), the National Tribal Forum on Air Quality (May 2016), the workshops of Rising Voices (2016, 2017), the Native Waters on Arid Lands Tribal Summit (November 2017), the BIA Tribal Providers Conference in Alaska (November 2017), and the Tribes & First Nations Summit (December 2017), among others. Additionally, through these tribal partners, the BIA provided 28 travel scholarships to interested tribal partners to attend and comment on the initial draft content of all regional chapters at the USGCRP’s regional engagement workshops. Additional avenues to communicate during these formal open-comment periods included multiple webinars, website notices on the BIA Tribal Resilience Program page, and email notices through BIA and partner email lists. In particular, the BIA solicited comments from multiple tribal partners on the completeness of the online interactive version of the map in Figure 15.1. Chapter authors and collaborators also presented at interactive forums with tribal representatives, such as the National Adaptation Forum (2017), and in various webinars to extend awareness of formal requests for comment opportunities through the USGCRP and partners, such as the Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Network. The feedback and reports from these activities were used to ensure that the Key Messages and supporting text included the most prominent topics and themes.

Description of evidence base:

Multiple studies of Indigenous peoples in the United States provide consistent and high-quality evidence that climate change is both a current and future threat to Indigenous livelihoods and economies. The climate impacts on traditional subsistence economies and hunting and gathering activities have been extensively documented and consistently provide qualitative observational evidence of impacts.6eef5a47-4a5e-4d07-88d4-b3cdff9bf9a0,2db11577-7774-4169-9b41-a9a6dca64688,93a1158a-17b9-43b9-9743-111f9c7ab8ab,5b754441-464c-49fd-90e8-c184fc2ba1f5,c4f8d3c8-e7c8-4128-84ab-24cfadfeecb5,c4dc3e2c-5be5-4afc-ae7d-7a4f1d65a126,88a5315d-074d-4918-9118-b30e828de06d,8871f837-6638-4388-a927-183ff59344b9,2cc674ab-ba51-40ca-87d7-787ea5f44811,9871290a-65c9-435f-9ad0-00514a8a08e6,6848eec2-534b-4629-967c-53d8530089a3,fdf0847b-c387-4a96-8424-7b6d03cfdc7f,ae8eaf7f-bb6c-4874-80fb-1e0d287c03f6,22ee4fef-966e-4fdd-ac3b-7503c4450956 There is also very robust documentation of observed adverse climate change related impacts to Indigenous commercial sector activities in agriculture, fishing, forestry, and energy,5b754441-464c-49fd-90e8-c184fc2ba1f5,6848eec2-534b-4629-967c-53d8530089a3,09bcf85b-e9b9-406d-bf4f-33231b674d45,a2135da9-c8b1-486f-9656-59d8a52b1975,7bc1ebe9-955f-4c9f-a54c-f718e354d5ca,d3bcbe1d-c24c-4905-8783-798f4f480ce1,e061ef38-98af-418f-8a2a-6a60fabda25e,bb12535a-6414-40fa-8f01-865a9707044c,fbfe908f-96b8-4926-99ff-d2ae5f2eee33,5a014fc7-218e-4116-88e9-c47a65b48e8c,22ee4fef-966e-4fdd-ac3b-7503c4450956,9878d869-8a7d-441c-9089-0cac578142de,af12c950-05d7-46bb-926a-c2d0d7672fb1,debdf209-4050-4706-965c-09cff7ec353b,a70c5744-3f77-4829-bf40-803b0ea0a14a,d75aae80-11ea-49c8-8d65-c3ecb3a58ed8,e043e0ac-8be2-4da7-824a-7b08b2bd7b15,d7ed19d6-e5ac-4b44-b686-0a8a16fc431b as well as recreation, tourism, and gaming.2db11577-7774-4169-9b41-a9a6dca64688,d8c1f7f9-fb54-45d9-911e-4be513768d09,85923ac2-22e6-4265-9d70-1887132abfce,7fbb768c-d8cf-48a5-88b4-dddb6d254013,32a621bf-5225-47a3-b7df-559443b3486e These sectors form the basis of most Indigenous economies in the United States.

Multiple studies also consistently identify funding constraints as barriers to the economic development of federally and non-federally recognized tribes,02b02533-c288-4eff-b88a-eb4ac3c61df4,5b754441-464c-49fd-90e8-c184fc2ba1f5 as well as barriers that limit self-determination stemming from historical and ongoing federal oversight of natural resources on tribal trust lands,9676f466-3bfc-4055-bfbd-4f1ef2a00441,d3ad1713-d5f8-421b-9ca2-10b8a09e26b8,27b75ed5-bf88-4286-93e0-d5ca60c374f2,a56ad752-bd50-4ab5-9bf3-1ad78c7acc49 including energy resources.59562026-760f-4a7f-a1be-49ea66e5631f,da9ddc98-c6e4-4316-9735-d53569de26a5 Multiple qualitative studies provide consistent and high-quality evidence of current vulnerabilities and challenges related to infrastructure and linked systems that support Indigenous economies and livelihoods.84368091-876c-4474-93de-50d64e88cf56,5b754441-464c-49fd-90e8-c184fc2ba1f5,d75aae80-11ea-49c8-8d65-c3ecb3a58ed8,e043e0ac-8be2-4da7-824a-7b08b2bd7b15,1175c66e-287d-415c-97a4-74d1908cf4da,4956592d-0d18-4463-b74c-cc8b312e6dba Despite these challenges, there is consistent and high-quality evidence supporting the finding that energy development, particularly renewable energy, that is implemented in accordance with Indigenous values holds promise as a source of revenue, employment, economic self-determination, and climate mitigation and adaptation for Indigenous communities.5b754441-464c-49fd-90e8-c184fc2ba1f5,32dea964-12d4-4254-ae54-91047849b82d,d1e4a798-e7df-4ff8-bedf-0874e6235704

The studies cited above consistently conclude that these impacts on livelihoods and economies will increase under future projections of climate change. However, methods for making these determinations vary, and quantitative or modeling results that are specific to Indigenous peoples in the United States are limited.

New information and remaining uncertainties:

As with all prospective studies, there is some uncertainty inherent in modeled projections of future changes, including both global climate system models and economic sector models. In addition, none of the cited studies explicitly modeled the effects of climate adaptation actions in the relevant economic sectors and the extent to which such actions may reduce Indigenous vulnerabilities.

The literature currently lacks studies that attempt to quantify and/or monetize climate impacts on Indigenous economies or economic activities. Instead, the studies cited above in the “Description of evidence base” section are qualitative analyses. The chapter references Chapter 29: Mitigation for some quantitative studies about climate impacts to U.S. economic sectors, but these are not specifically about Indigenous economies. Quantitative national studies of climate impacts may have general applicability to Indigenous peoples, but their overall utility in quantifying impacts to Indigenous peoples may be limited, because there is uncertainty regarding the extent to which appropriate extrapolations can be made between Indigenous and non-Indigenous contexts.

Other uncertainties include characterizing future impacts and vulnerabilities in a shifting policy landscape, when vulnerabilities can be either exacerbated or alleviated in part by policy changes, such as the quantification and adjudication of federal reserved water rights and the development of policies that promote or inhibit the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies (for example, the development of water rights for instream flow purposes).84368091-876c-4474-93de-50d64e88cf56

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

Given the amount of robust and consistent studies in the literature, the authors have very high confidence that Indigenous peoples’ subsistence and commercial livelihoods and economies, including agriculture, hunting and gathering, fishing, forestry, recreation, tourism, and energy, face current threats from climate impacts to water, land, and other natural resources, as well as infrastructure and related human systems and services. The authors have high confidence in the available evidence indicating that it is likely that future climate change will increase impacts to water, land, other natural resources, and infrastructure that support Indigenous people’s livelihoods and economies. The authors have high confidence that Indigenous peoples’ economies depend on, but face institutional barriers to, their self-determined management of water, land, other natural resources, and infrastructure, stemming from funding constraints and the complexities of federal oversight of trust resources.

References :

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