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Though familiarly recognized as Columbus Day, many people in the U.S. instead choose to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The day celebrates the Indigenous Peoples of the United States and commemorates their histories and cultures. Hawai‘i has chosen the name Discoverer’s Day, in recognition of the Polynesian discoverers of the Hawaiian Islands.
For centuries, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and other Indigenous peoples have stewarded natural resources to sustain their communities, traditional ways of life, and cultural identities. This close relationship with the natural world puts Indigenous communities at the forefront of climate change impacts. Drawing upon a strong history of adaptation and innovation, Tribal nations and Indigenous communities are key collaborators on adaptation work within the Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC) network. The CASCs partner with Native and Indigenous communities to better understand their specific knowledge of and exposure to climate change impacts, to increase or assist with capacity to support adaptation planning, and to identify and address their climate science needs. The CASCs have funded, organized, and participated in a variety of research projects, training workshops, and stakeholder meetings. In fact, in 2015 the South Central CASC received a Department of the Interior Environmental Achievement Award for “Climate Science and Partnerships – Increasing the Tribal Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation”. The CASCs have also worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to support Tribal Resilience Liaisons who provide another avenue for communication, engagement, and research between Indigenous peoples and the CASCs. These Liaisons are dedicated to increasing CASC engagement with Tribal nations, Tribal consortia, and Tribal organizations so that the CASCs can further understand and meet their information needs.
The projects CASCs have funded to support and assist Native and Indigenous communities can be grouped into four main categories: 1) assessing science needs; 2) increasing capacity; 3) understanding impacts to food, water, and culturally important resources; and 4) incorporating traditional knowledge into adaptation planning. Read on to learn more about our efforts in these areas.