- In the Northwest, coastal tribes are noticing melting glaciers and rising sea levels.
- Native tribes are working with climate scientists to utilize their holistic knowledge.
- Some tribes have been collecting generations of information.
Native American tribes are teaming up with climate scientists to monitor environmental changes along the coast, changes that are disrupting indigenous ways of life that tribes say are key to their survival.
Tribal leaders say their understanding of natural ecosystems such as long-term weather patterns or wildlife migrations can be just as important as CO2 measurements or satellite data.
"The long term perspective of our people has scientific value," said Micah McCarty, chairman of the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay, Washington. "We can establish a more holistic baseline of the big picture of things. Some scientists may be more narrowly focused and have an excellent perspective, but we have a broader perspective to draw from. That's a value."
The Makah people and their descendants have been living in the area for 4,000 years, and have collected generations of information about their environment. That environment has recently been changing, McCarty noted, as droughts have destroyed freshwater streams that are important salmon spawning nurseries and shellfish that are collected for traditional clothing and crafts are facing threats from increasing ocean acidification.