Indigenous Peoples Lead Fight Against Climate Change

Tribal communities are preparing for climate impacts by drawing on their deep understanding of the relationship between humans and the natural environment.

March 1, 2020, 7:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink

Swinomish Channel Washington

Kymberlee della Luce / Flickr

Indigenous communities across the country are leading the way in addressing climate change, which is directly affecting tribal lands, reports Nicola Jones. The tribes’ connections to natural resources and understanding of ecosystems have been integral in the development of forward-thinking practices and policies to protect the environment.

"These are communities that have relied on the land for generations, building an intimate knowledge of the natural cycles of plants, animals, and weather. Unlike the traditional Western worldview that humanity can and should seek dominion over the environment, indigenous populations tend to view humanity as part of an interconnected whole," writes Jones.

The Swinomish in Washington state, for example, have launched projects to protect salmon runs and restore oyster beds. "For the Swinomish, as for many indigenous groups, it makes little sense to talk about environmental health and human health separately; they are deeply intertwined, with community cohesion and traditional food security being equally vital," says Jones.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 in Yale Environment 360

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