Tribal Colleges and Universities: TCU Engagement with Tribal Communities on Climate Change Issues

Project Leader: 
Research Partners: 
Rebecca Edler (Sustainability Coordinator), Dean Fellman (Director of Center for First Americans Forestlands), Cynthia Norton (Sustainability Administrative Assistant). In addition, a Tribal College and University (TCU) Americorps VISTA Volunteer Greg Gauthier.
Status: 
Ongoing
Science Themes: 

This project is focused on the specific actions of CMNSDI as part of the CMN Campus and Menominee community to engage in climate change initiatives, as a means to provide demonstration and products that can be provided to other TCU's to consider and follow as they engage with their own communities on climate change and its predicted impacts to community life. This project will cover the development of educational materials for use in existing courses at CMN; an assessment and summary of existing TCU led or affiliated projects and any available results; creation of a recommmended best practices for use in these efforts.

These efforts are primarily focused on TCU's and are connected to meeting the overall NE CSC goal "to provide climate science and global research that assists resource managers in developing management and adaptation plans that address current and predicted changes at both regional and local scales". TCU's already have a direct relationship with the tribal communities they serve, and can best help build relationships that will facilitate the implementation of recommendations described under the NE CSC science theme 6.

We worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Climate Change Program to develop a CMNSDI case study for the newly developed Tribal Nations sub-topic for the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. This provided an initial opportunity to develop a framework that can be used as a resource for other TCU's to develop climate change research initiatives.

SDI currently had staff attend a training put on by the American Meteorology Society (AMS) to help with the development of educational curriculum materials for inclusion at CMN in its Introduction to Sustainable Development course (SDE 100). This curriculum development is still ongoing, and is targeted for implementation during the spring 2016 semester.

We continue to develop relationships between other TCU's on matters related to climate change. Part of this effort continues to be making TCU's aware of the CSC network in their areas. One of our current contacts has been Salish Kootenai College in an effort to develop a project to raise awareness for the upcoming NCA 4 (Indigenous and Tribal Communities chapter). The project that has been developed is now being funded by the BIA National Climate Resilience program, with the start of these efforts funded by the NE CSC.

Presentations: 
  • CMN SDI hosted an Earth Day event, April 21 around Keshena campus that provided presentations on the NE CSC work
  • Caldwell and Schaefer presented on NECSC work and NCA 4 project at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) Annual Conference in Minneapolis, MN, March 13, specific session titled TCU's and Climate Change
  • Caldwell presented on NE CSC work and NCA 4 project at the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society (NAFWS) Annual Symposium, Green Bay, WI, May 18, 2016
  • Schaefer presented on NECSC work and NCA 4 project at National Tribal Air Forum, Buffalo, NY, May 18, 2016 during specific Tribes and Climate Change session
Other: 
  • Case Study for U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit: https://toolkit.climate.gov/taking-action/college-menominee-nation-sustainable-development-institute-builds-capacity-tribal

  • CMNSDI hosted two sessions of CMN Faculty/Student Engagement event titled "Environmental Responsibility and Ethics" which focused on developing relations between faculty and students as well as SDI and our projects related to climate (i.e. NE CSC and SCRiM). This activity is being written up as a separate article with CMN faculty co-authoring. The focus will be for inclusion in the Tribal College Journal.

  • We plan on hosting a specific event March 2016 similar to the fall semester events. Part of the development will look at linking this event to other interested TCU's through Skype or other web-based technologies.