November 1, 2013
Native Tribes’ Traditional Knowledge Can Help US Adapt To Climate Change
Dartmouth, other researchers explore global warming's ecological, cultural, health impacts on indigenous peoples
Condensed by Native Village
New England: The sustainable methods Native People used to farm, hunt and manage the forests, lands and waters were devastated by Europeans 400 years ago. Now, more than 50 researchers from Dartmouth and elsewhere say these Native methods can help today's America adapt to climate change.
The special issue, which includes 13 articles, focuses on climate change’s impact on U.S. tribes and how they've responded to the changing environments. The issue concludes that tribes’ traditional ecological knowledge can play a key role in developing scientific solutions to adapt to the impacts.
“The partnerships between tribal peoples and their non-tribal research allies give us a model for responsible and respectful international collaboration,” the authors say.
Dartmouth assistant professors Nicholas Reo and Angela Parker wrote the
article, “Re-thinking colonialism to prepare for the impacts of
rapid environmental change.” They said New England settlers created a cascade
of environmental and human changes that spread across North America.
These included human diseases, invasive species, deforestation and
“But when indigenous communities were decimated by disease and
eventually alienated from their known environments, land tenure
innovations based on deep, local ecological knowledge, disappeared,”
“Colonists, and their extractive systems aimed at key animal and plant
species, became the new shapers of cultural landscapes. Rapid ecological
degradation subsequently ensued, and New Englanders created a difficult
project of stewarding a far less resilient landscape without help from
indigenous land managers who would have known best how to enact
ecological restoration measures.”
Village © Gina Boltz
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