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Updated 25 May 2005

US National Assessment of
the Potential Consequences
of Climate Variability and Change
Region: Native Peoples /
Native Homelands



For additional information, see the Mega-Region: Native Peoples and Native Homelands


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Links to Material from the Native Peoples / Native Homelands Assessment Group:

  • National Workshop

    Related Articles from the National Assessment's Newsletter, Acclimations.

    The Workshop

    "Circles of Wisdom: Historical Reminders, Contemporary Issues", the Native Peoples/ Native Homelands (NPNH) Climate Change Workshop, sponsored by NASA, the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of New Mexico, and the city of Albuquerque, was held 28 October - 1 November, 1998 at the Albuquerque Convention Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico. The NPNH workshop was one of the series of US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) regional climate change workshops. This series of workshops is seen as a first step in a U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change.

    The goal of the Native Peoples/Native Homelands workshop was to provide an opportunity for Native Peoples to participate in the dialogue and consider the impacts of climate variability/change on minerals, plants, animals, and humans. Native Peoples bring an indigenous cultural and spiritual perspective, with their spiritual traditions and long community histories of change, adaptation, and survival in specific regions.

    The workshop was designed around the simultaneous consideration of Historical Reminders and Contemporary Issues. Spiritual Elders were invited to share their wisdom and knowledge of tribal histories and prophecies. Tribal leaders, Native scientists and scholars, and community members were asked to consider current observations of change and impacts experienced today across the country. The workshop report is in progress.

    Issues for Analysis

    While the workshop encompassed issues and concerns of Native Peoples from around the US and the islands, the follow-up assessment considered a number of key sectors that are critical to the Native Peoples/Native Homelands region - specifically in the southwest. Six major areas are addressed in which economic and environmental impacts due to climate change will probably be substantial. Key issues include: Water, Agriculture, Human Health, Wildlife and Natural Ecosystems, Sovereign Borders and Boundaries, and Tourism and Recreation. Some additional issues identified by the participants in the workshop are being undertaken by various of the other regional assessments, notably the Northern Great Plains.

    Strategy for the Assessment

    The Assessment task of the Native Peoples / Native Homelands Project was to identify, develop, and assess the application of NASA geospatial technologies to issues of importance to the Native American community - with a focus on the southwest. For over 10,000 years, native peoples have adapted to the arid and varied environments of the Southwest. Developing technologies and other coping strategies uniquely suited to survival in the often harsh and unforgiving environments of what is now the Southwestern US, the indigenous peoples developed some of the most complex and sophisticated societies of the western hemisphere.

    It was the intent of this research to investigate how modern NASA technologies could be integrated into and support those strategies to better meet the needs of the modern Native Peoples of the SW. This regional assessment incorporated Traditional Ecological Knowledge by looking at how the various climate change models might impact Native populations. It was accomplished through directed interviews with Elders of the Navajo Tribe.

    Using the different climate models, researchers developed scenarios that could be presented to the Elders for their input on how the scenarios might impact Natives based on their knowledge and experience of short-term weather patterns, such as drought, etc. The Elders were also asked to describe the strategies adopted in the past to deal with short term perturbations and what long-term implications could be derived from them. The Assessment document is expected during 2002.

    Principal Investigator Stan Morain, University of New Mexico
    Co-Principal Investigator Ray Williamson, George Washington University
    Coordinating Federal Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Agency Representative Woody Turner
    Alex Tuyahov
    Ann Carlson, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Key Issues
    • Water Resources and Water Management Technologies
    • Health
    • Management of Land Resources

    Assessment Team

    • Caroline Ball, Department of Geography, University of New Mexico
    • Mark Bauer, Dine College
    • Amy Budge, Earth Data Analysis Center, University of New Mexico
    • Linda Colon, University of New Mexico
    • Rich Friedman, McKinley County GIS Center
    • Laura Gleasner, Earth Data Analysis Center, University of New Mexico
    • Kirk Gregory, Department of Geography, University of New Mexico
    • Doug Isely, Dine College
    • Rachel Loehman, Earth Data Analysis Center, University of New Mexico
    • Stan Morain, Earth Data Analysis Center, University of New Mexico
    • Paul Neville, Earth Data Analysis Center, University of New Mexico
    • Lou Scuderi, Department of Geography, University of New Mexico
    • Carmelita Topaha, Native American Studies, University of New Mexico
    • Rick Watson, San Juan College
    • Ray Williamson, George Washington University



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