CLIMATE CHANGE: ITS IMPACT ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND THEIR FIGHT AGAINST IT
Across the U.S. and around the globe, Native Americans are rallying together to fight against climate change – because although this issue impacts everyone in the world, it has an even greater impact on Indigenous people.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Indigenous people are more vulnerable to climate change than non-Indigenous people. The panel identified a series of categories that make a community vulnerable to climate change, including proximity to rivers and coastal flood plains, areas prone to extreme weather conditions, and economies that are heavily dependent on climate. Many Native American reservation communities in the U.S. fit into at least one of these categories.
This has Indigenous peoples actively working together to fight climate change and enact positive change. Recent notable efforts include:
- The National Congress of American Indians establishing an initiative in 2018 to mitigate climate change impacts on tribes in Washington state. The program aims to increase awareness of the issue to federal leaders, in hopes of motivating change through legislation.
- Creating the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change to bring together government leaders from around the world and educate them about these issues.
- The DC Climate Change March in 2017, where more than 150,000 Native Americans marched on Washington against policies that are putting their tribal communities in danger.
Many Native American leaders are also voicing their concerns about this growing issue, including Lisa Deville, president of Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights and member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Lisa raises awareness for the need to continue researching climate change and educating on pollution and its impact on tribal communities.
Native Americans refuse to turn a blind eye to these issues, and instead are rising up to make a difference. They are also tackling climate change through other avenues, such as taking a lead on other green trends, such as renewable energy and sustainable housing.