Northwest tribes perform during opening ceremony of First Stewards Symposium on July 17 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Pacific Indigenous Leaders Meet in Washington D.C. to Discuss Adapting to Climate Change


Among indigenous cultures being affected by climate change, coastal communities are in the lead. Since these cultures have been around for millennia—during which things have decidedly not stayed the same—they have had a fair amount of practice in adapting to various changes.

But climate change and its rapidity proves a formidable challenge to today’s indigenous. However, using their traditional ecological knowledge, they are finding ways to cope. Recently five U.S. tribes hosted a gathering in Washington D.C., the First Stewards symposium, to examine climate change’s impact on indigenous coastal communities and ways of life, as well as explore solutions.

Led by the Hoh, Makah and Quileute tribes and the Quinault Indian Nation tribes of Washington State, this national event took place from July 17–20, tapping into millennia of traditional ecological knowledge. Held at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian, the symposium united hundreds of Native leaders, climate scientists and policy makers, as well as representatives from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Plans are to meet yearly.

The changes on way of life are marked. There are the Quinault Indians, whose salmon supply is dwindling. There are Native Alaskan villagers being forced to move as the permafrost beneath their dwellings melts. And in the U.S. Pacific Islands, storms are getting more intense as temperatures of both air and water increase, pushing up sea level, even as rainfall and water levels in streams decreases.

“We’ve always lived off the land and off the waters and continue to do that,” said Mike Williams, chief of the Yupit Nation in Akiak, Alaska, in an informational Senate Indian Affairs Committee that was held at the same time as the symposium. “But we’re bearing the burden of living with these conditions today.”

More on climate change's effects on Native peoples:

Alaskan Native Communities Facing Climate-Induced Relocation

Learn more about the First Stewards symposium.

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curtj's picture
Submitted by curtj on
The obscene collusion and conflict of interest between the corporate fishery and oil, energy and mining conglomerates and their bribed political prostitutes, and embedded, and burrowed, political operatives, appointees, and officials, in all three branches of the governmen,t has a lot to do with the climate change and the pooh poohing of it from the bought off Washington puppet marrionettes. Thye Indigenous are forced to knuckle down to the descendants of the illegal European immigrants who continue the theft of our worlds resources, the subjugation of the Indigenous by bribed 2 bit dictators, set up and propped up by our government to the tune of trillions of dollars the American taxpayer subsidizes for the million, and billions in profits for the richest 1% of Americans. The neo con parasites and pimps and their bought off Washington prostitutes get the profits and the Americans get the trillions in bills and resulting terrorist attacks. The Indigenous here are too busy attacking each other in kneejerk reactions of the Feds and States foisting their policies of colonialism with its theft and murder on us. Our leaders have no vision for their people. They only think and make decisions based on colonial ideals and parameters foisted on them by the feds and states. No vision at all, no attempt to go the Indigenous Peoples Foprum of the United Nations. Only thoughts of careers based on losing all to the invading thieves and murderers.