Tribal Adaptation Planning through Participatory Foresight Development

Tribal Adaptation Planning through Participatory Foresight Development

Traditional knowledge is seen as an important contributor to climate adaptation planning for both American Indian communities and neighboring communities in the region. This project addressed the challenge of how specific Tribes can adapt to climate change in ways that ensure the protection of tribal cultures and harness cultural resources, as well as integrate the best scientific resources about environmental change, address emerging social problems, and negotiate jurisdictional challenges unique to federally-recognized Tribes. The project team explored two questions: 1) Can foresight processes be used to create viable climate adaptation scenarios that can help Tribes build capacities in advance?; and 2) Can foresight processes garner sufficient community involvement for building scenarios that reflect Tribes’ cultures, social situations, knowledge needs and resources, and jurisdictional and legal complexities?

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Research findings: 

1) Different institutions/communities within each Tribe, some of which rarely communicate with each other, were able to share knowledge and insights through storytelling (since scenarios are narratives); and 2) Scenario planning is more than a tool; it is a process. Communications among different Tribal departments, community members and elected officials prior to the scenario planning workshop were just as important as the workshop itself.