The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community recently received the The Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for planning and implementation of climate change adaptation. The Swinomish Climate Change Initiative began in 2008 and assessed local impacts, identified vulnerabilities and prioritized planning areas and actions to address the possible effects of climate change.
Climate change threatens not only the environment, but also tribal communities whose culture, livelihood and identities depend on natural resources.
“Current climate change assessments omit key community health concerns, which are vital to successful adaptation plans, particularly for indigenous communities,” said Jamie Donatuto, environmental health specialist for the Swinomish Tribe.
“Recent assessments show that indigenous communities, especially coastal communities, are disproportionately vulnerable to a number of climate impacts as reservation boundaries are fixed and many aspects of their culture are so closely tied to coastal health” said Eric Grossman, coastal and marine geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and partner in the project.
Donatuto and Larry Campbell, Swinomish elder and tribal historic preservation officer, developed a set of indigenous indicators to evaluate aspects of community health that other assessments leave out. The indicators prioritize self-determination, community connection, natural resources security, and cultural use and practice.
Here’s a deeper looker by the PBS Newshours in 2012: