Community-Engaged Participatory Climate Research with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

Schuyler Chew and Karletta Chief
Posted on: 9/25/2023 - Updated on: 11/06/2023

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Climate change’s threat to the identity, culture, economy, and livelihoods of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) can be better understood through community-engaged participatory methods.

Our research team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scientists formed a tribal-university partnership with the PLPT Council to understand how climate change and upstream pressures threaten PLPT ecosystems, lands, and resources. The objectives are to:

  1. consider how decolonizing, Indigenizing, and participatory methodologies can inform climate research engagement between scientists and Indigenous partners
  2. Understand PLPT perspectives of climate change impacts and priorities for climate research
  3. Engage the PLPT community in climate change discussion

Working with the PLPT Natural Resources Department, in accordance with PLPT research protocols, we convened a community-driven climate workshop in which environmental managers and community members identified environmental challenges, affected stakeholders, and potential solutions. The workshop participants emphasized the importance of water, culturally significant species, and the role of community in climate adaptation. These community-identified priorities highlighted the need to develop interpretive climate resources for community members, including a video summary of fish ecology.

Overall, our collaboration with the PLPT benefited from greater community involvement, increased awareness of PLPT commitment to climate research, an iterative engagement process, prioritization of community perspectives, and incorporation of PLPT feedback on research outcomes. From our positionality as Indigenous environmental scientists, we conclude that decolonizing, Indigenizing, and participatory action approaches to climate research with Indigenous partners should strive for accountability to community research protocols and priorities; practical and useful outcomes; and empathetic and respectful engagement with research participants.

This research is part of a special feature on Collaborative Management, Environmental Caretaking, and Sustainable Livelihoods.


Chew, S., and K. Chief. 2023. Community-engaged participatory climate research with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Ecology and Society 28(1):16.

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