Guidelines for Participatory Research Relationships

Sept. 8, 2023
Ariel image of Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake, Nevada
Photo credit: Manny Becerra

Community engagement is at the center of a SW CASC-funded publication by Schuyler Chew and Karletta Chief. The article, published in Ecology and Society, is titled, “Community-engaged participatory climate research with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.” Through their study, the authors worked with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) in northern Nevada to develop a respectful research relationship and to identify key areas of concern related to climate change adaptation for the Tribe. 

As part of the study, the researchers designed a two-day participatory climate change workshop in collaboration with the PLPT Natural Resources Department with the purpose of hearing from PLPT staff and community members about their climate change concerns. Workshop participants identified environmental challenges, ecological indicators, and management alternatives that were important to them. Priorities determined by workshop participants were then used to guide the authors’ research and development of outreach tools. “We shifted our attention to creating educational resources that explore how climate change impacts to water might impact cultural resources and livelihoods,” said the authors. “Our literature review video offered interpretive climate resources that demonstrate how future changes in local climate can affect Pyramid Lake ecology.”

Through this research the researchers found that decolonized, Indigenized, and participatory climate research with Indigenous partners should strive for three main goals: 1) accountability to the Tribal community’s research protocols and priorities, 2) practical and useful outcomes, and 3) empathetic and respectful engagement with participants of the research. This study highlights important insight for Native Nations that are looking to engage in formal climate change research partnerships and for researchers who are considering respectful research engagement with Indigenous communities. 

For more information about this project, watch the recorded SW CASC webinar titled, “Webinar: Engaging Indigenous Communities in Climate Resilience Research.”