Blog One: Rising Voices: Collaborative Science with Indigenous Knowledge for Climate Solutions
Nana ka maka, look with your eyes.
Ho'olohe ka pepeiao, hear with your ears (not your Heart).
Paa ka waha, shut your mouth.
Hana i ka lima, work with your hands.
According to the United States National Climate Assessment 2014, “climate change threatens Native Peoples’ access to traditional foods and adequate water. Alaskan Native communities are increasingly exposed to health and livelihood hazards related to rising temperatures and declining sea ice. Climate change impacts are forcing relocation of some Native communities." Furthermore, according to the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit webpage, “climate change impacts are projected to be especially severe for many of the 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States that depend on traditional places, foods, and lifestyles.”
Each year for the past four years, I have attended the Rising Voices workshops at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. The workshop gathers people from across the United States- including the indigenous leaders that lead the US National Climate Assessment Chapter on Indigenous Peoples, scientists, community leaders, and government entities - “for a rich and honest discussion regarding the complex climate change challenges facing Indigenous peoples, current adaptation and mitigation strategies, protection of Indigenous knowledge, sustainable Indigenous practices, and political and institutional barriers. Many of the Indigenous communities represented at Rising Voices are already contending with a changing climate, including displacement of Native Alaskan villages and Native Gulf Coast communities due to rising sea levels, loss of sea ice, and/or extreme hurricane activity. Additionally, severe droughts are impacting many tribes, including tribes in the Southwest and the Great Plains, which are resulting in water scarcity for domestic, agricultural, and livestock use” (Rising Voices) -- ultimately to explore climate change through Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Western science, and ways to collaborate together.
This past July, the Rising Voices 4 Workshop was held in the Big Island of Hawai’i. “The location of the gathering on Hawai’i Island was significant, as it plays a central role in atmospheric science, from measurements generated at several sites, and is home to local communities using place-based knowledge and traditional practice to create modern day solutions to issues related to climate change” (Rising Voices).
One of the things I love best about The GLOBE Program is that it connects local K-12 students, teachers, university partners, and scientists to connect about local environments through place-based learning, monitoring, sharing data, and communicating through research investigations led by communities- similar to Rising Voices. In his book, Power and Place: Indian Education in America, Dr. Dan Wildcat of Haskell Indian Nations University says:
“The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Project, an experiential and inquiry-based educational use of the World Wide Web, suggests there might be reason for some optimism. Imagine indigenous schoolchildren from Malaysia, the Altai mountains of Siberia, and the desert Southwest going out in their homelands and experientially learning about their environments, collecting their own ‘data,’ and learning how to analyze their data by doing, as opposed to being taught about, science. More importantly, the Internet and World Wide Web may in fact give indigenous peoples around the world the opportunity to compare notes on what is happening in their homelands and, even more significantly, discuss what their observations mean.” (Vine, D., and Wildcat, D.)
The theme of Rising Voices 4 - connecting traditional place-based learning with science measurements - is something GLOBE has been doing for more than twenty years! Some of our most recent GLOBE initiatives - such as the worldwide El Niño Story Maps, the European Aerosols Campaign, and GLOBE trainings in tribal communities in the United States - actively connect learners and communities of all types through place-based learnings.
Throughout the two-and-a-half days of the conference, we participated in cultural protocols, went on tours of scientific and educational relevance, and shared in conversations about how we can collectively engage in storytelling for solutions to the immense challenge of climate change.
Read more about my experience here -- Blog 2: Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa and Blog 3: Phenology.
Additional Resources for teaching and learning:
- Want to learn more about tribal communities in GLOBE?: Check out recent examples of tribal communities in the United States incorporate GLOBE into their educational initiatives include: Stone Child College’s STEM program, the Geoscience Alliance National Conference at Salish Kootenai College, and GLOBE Partner Elena Sparrow’s “Sign of the Land: Reaching Arctic Communities Facing Climate Change (ReAC) Academy.”
- The United States National Climate Assessment Chapter on Indigenous Peoples, Land, and Resources is a good resource to engage students in learning about the impacts of climate change on indigenous peoples in the United States.
- Learn about how tribal communities are impacted by climate change and what communities are doing to assess and plan, adapt, mitigate, reduce disaster risk, relocate, and build capacity in the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, Tribal Nation. In particular, these Tribal Case Studies of communities building resilience to climate change:
- Read firsthand about one community in “The First Official Climate Refugees in the U.S. Race Against Time” National Geographic Article