20160205-Wolfe-TheHill-600x298.jpg

Ecologist David Wolfe reports in The Hill, on his conversations with Lakota and Dakota community members about how climate change is affecting their environment. 

Native American Perspectives on Climate Change

February 5, 2016

20160205-Wolfe-TheHill-600x298.jpg

Ecologist David Wolfe reports in The Hill, on his conversations with Lakota and Dakota community members about how climate change is affecting their environment.

Climate change perspectives from Indian Country
February 2, 2016

I was on a research trip to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in North and South Dakota this December to learn from Lakota and Dakota community members how climate change was affecting their environment, and to begin a dialogue about building resilience to this challenge. While there, my group was also keeping track of events at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where the Indigenous Environmental Network was organizing events to raise awareness of indigenous peoples' vulnerability to climate change and longstanding concerns about human impacts on the Earth.

As an ecologist, I was struck by how the complex and cascading effects of a changing climate were real-life issues for members of the Lakota and Dakota community, giving them an understanding far beyond those who do not interact with the environment in the same way. They could see how seasonal cycles of the living world — like spring bloom, bird migrations or the thickening of the winter coat of the buffalo — were becoming out of sync with the sun and moon cycles on which our Gregorian calendar is based. They were concerned with declining fish and game, negative impacts on farm and ranching, and the shifting timing and abundance of traditional foods gathered from the grasslands and forests: prairie turnips in June, chokecherries in July, buffalo berries and wild mushrooms in September... (Read more)