DIVERSITY OF THE SOUTHWEST ENVIRONMENT
Throughout history, tribes of the Southwest have adapted to their environment. Although, today they face unique challenges linked to climate change, their deep connection to the natural environment that defines their livelihoods, cultural identity, and ceremonial practices keep them rooted in the systems that allow them to be resilient in the time of crises. Changes to water systems, landscapes, and ecosystems, in combination with socio-economic and political factors, amplify tribal vulnerabilities to climate change.
Cynthia Naha is the Southwest CASC Senior Tribal Climate Resilience Liaison and is supported by SW CASC Assistant Tribal Climate Resilience Liaison, Anissa McKenna. Cynthia and Anissa work jointly for the Southwest CASC and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Learn more and contact Cynthia or Anissa by visiting our Tribal Liaison page!
In the Southwest, tribes are already experiencing a range of impacts that can be associated with climate change. These effects include:
Major water supply and water quality issues in the context of prolonged drought.
Loss of ecosystem services and reduced ability to grow or collect important traditional foods, plants, and other raw materials.
Increased impacts to forest resources from large and landscape-transforming wildfires due to drought, aridity, and insect infestations.
Health impacts from heat waves, dust storms, and smoke from wildfires; and the potential spread of infectious diseases from geographic shifts in disease vectors.
The SW CASC acknowledges that Tribes not only in the Southwest, but across the nation are leading the way in addressing climate change through adaptation planning and mitigation efforts. The innovative strategies influenced by traditional knowledge will advance the actions taken to address climate change. The SW CASC continuously works to collaborate, partner, and support Tribes in their efforts. We describe our strategy for collaborating with our Tribal partners in our Tribal Engagement Strategy. Additionally, an incredible resource for anyone working with Tribes is a recently published guide to Building Authentic Collaborations with Tribal Communities. This guide was developed by SW CASC partners at the Climate Science Alliance (CSA), and was created from conversations at SWAF 2021, which was co-hosted by the SW CASC and CSA.
The SW CASC not only continues to engage with Tribal partners, but also provides support through funding opportunities that help support Tribal communities mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts. The SW CASC is partnering with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to support two Tribal Climate Resilience Liaisons that serve as important resources to Tribal Nations and Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) within the SW CASC region (Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah). They provide information, technical assistance, and access to subject matter experts necessary to support local climate resilience research, planning, and implementation efforts.
Cynthia Naha and Anissa McKenna work for the Southwest CASC and American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) as Tribal Climate Resilience Liaisons. They work across the SW CASC region of California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona to connect 159 Federally Recognized Tribal Nations to tools, information, and other climate resilience resources. Contact Cynthia at firstname.lastname@example.org and Anissa at email@example.com.