New website highlights tribal voices on climate change

Washington tribal map found on This Is Indian Country website.

The Indigenous Climate Project has launched a newly designed website that highlights oral histories and traditional ecological knowledge of Northwest tribal leaders.

According to news release, the website also unveils a connected middle school curriculum and a new documentary highlighting tribal leaders talking about the impacts of climate change and potential solutions. The project is a partnership between This Is Indian Country (TIIC), an indigenous-led nonprofit; Washington Wild, a statewide conservation nonprofit; and the Pacific Education Institute (PEI). The project is funded primarily by the BECU Foundation and can be viewed at

“Tribes didn’t cause climate change, but they have been leading the way in responding to it,” said Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Suquamish Tribe and president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, which serves 57 Northwest tribes. “There has been a growing realization that the experience and traditional knowledge tribes generated over thousands of years, combined with their contemporary science, have much to offer in terms of sustainable environmental management.”
“Since August 2022, we have conducted 25 interviews with tribal leaders in the Northwest,” said Michael Harris, TIIC president. “The Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) they have shared with us has been life-changing. From a true sense of place and ancestry guiding them, and an emerging position of political and economic power, the tribes are battling climate change head-on and inspiring us all.”
Added Tom Uniack, executive director of Washington Wild: “Iit has been an honor to be affiliated with this program, and we are dedicated to working with tribes in our efforts to support the restoration of natural resources impacted by climate change.”
“Natural riches flourished under thousands of years of tribal stewardship,” said Willie Frank III, former chair of the Nisqually Tribe. “But in the few hundred years since, the harrowing impacts of non-tribal society have caused immense water pollution problems, climate change and other dramatic changes in our ecosystem. Obviously, there are lessons to be learned about the sustainability tribes have achieved,” he said.

The oral histories can be viewed here.

The middle school curriculum, written by long-time tribal advocate Steve Robinson, will provide the basis for a teachers’ workshop in August.
“It is more important than ever for students, teachers, and people in general to learn about and practice long-term environmental management principles of the tribes,” Forsman said. “There is a huge gap between environmental sustainability and the management practices in mainstream society.”

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