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Supporting Indigenous Adaptation in a Changing Climate: Insights from the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre (British Columbia) and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation (Arizona)

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Indigenous peoples are both disproportionately threatened by global climate change and uniquely positioned to enhance local adaptive capacities. We identify actions that support Indigenous adaptation based on organizational and community perspectives. Our data come from two Indigenous organizations that share cultural heritage stewardship missions—the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre (Stó:lō Nation, British Columbia) and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation (White Mountain Apache Tribe, Arizona). These organizations collaborated with us in exploring community perceptions of climate effects, investigating community adaptation opportunities and constraints, and identifying actions that support Indigenous adaptation. Research methods included engagement with organizational collaborators and semi-structured interviews with organizational representatives and community members and staff. Results confirm that Stó:lō and Apache territories and communities have experienced climate change impacts, such as changes in temperature, hydrology, and increase in extreme weather events. Climate effects are cumulative to colonial depletion of traditional environments and further reduce access to traditional resources, practices, and food security. Results indicated that certain actions are identified by community members as adaptation enablers across case studies—most prominently, perpetuation of Indigenous culture and knowledge, climate education that is tailored to local contexts, collaborative decision-making among community institutions, and integration of climate adaptation into ongoing organizational programs. We conclude that Indigenous-owned organizations are engaged in the expansion of adaptive capacity and hold potential to further support their communities.
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