Facing the storm: Indian tribes, climate-induced weather extremes, and the future for Indian country

As sovereign nations, Indian Tribes consistently strive to fully exercise their right of self determination and to maintain their cultural identity, often in the face of the severe economic, societal, and environmental challenges confronting them. Their sovereignty, cultures, and ways of life are profoundly tested in these times by the added challenge of climate change. Tribes are disproportionately impacted by rapidly changing climates, manifested in ecological shifts and extreme weather events, as compared to the general population, due to the often marginal nature and/or location of many Tribal lands. The high dependence of Tribes upon their lands and natural resources to sustain their economic, cultural, and spiritual practices, the relatively poor state of their infrastructure, and the great need for financial and technical resources to recover from such events all contribute to the disproportionate impact on Tribes. Nevertheless, Indian Tribes have significant strengths and resiliency to meet these challenges. This report provides a basis for Tribes to consider how they may be affected by changes in climate and weather extremes and steps they can take to proactively address these impacts.