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Climate Change in Arid Lands and Native American Socioeconomic Vulnerability: The Case of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

Mahesh R. Gautam, Karletta Chief, and William J. Smith Jr.
Created: 1/08/2014 - Updated: 8/12/2019


The case of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe exemplifies tribal vulnerabilities as a result of climate change. Preliminary socio-economic data and analysis reveal that the tribe’s vulnerability to climate change is related to cultural and economic dependence on Pyramid Lake, while external socio-economic vulnerability factors influence adaptive capacity and amplify potential impacts. Reduced water supplies as a consequence of climate change would result in a compounded reduction of inflows to Pyramid Lake, thus potentially impacting the spawning and sustenance of a cultural livelihood, the endangered cui-ui fish (Chasmistes cujus). Meanwhile, limited economic opportunities and dwindling federal support constrain tribal adaptive capacity. Factors that contribute to tribal adaptive capacity include: sustainability-based values, technical capacity for natural resource management, proactive initiatives for the control of invasive-species, strong external scientific networks, and remarkable tribal awareness of climate change.

Published On

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Tribal / First Nation
Sector Addressed: 
Development (socioeconomic)
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Culture / communities
Water supply
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies