Tribal Climate Adaptation Guidebook


Meghan Dalton, Samantha Chisholm Hatfield,  Alexander “Sascha” Petersen, Nyssa Russell, Alex BasarabaDaniel Bisett


Posted on: 9/12/2022 - Updated on: 9/12/2022

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The changing climate is affecting critical cultural and community resources, species, habitats, people, and assets. In many cases, these changes are likely to be profound, having the potential to significantly affect the lifeways of Indigenous communities. Yet, since time immemorial, Tribes have maintained their cultural traditions, demonstrating a high degree of resilience in the face of changing environmental and social conditions.

The Tribal Climate Adaptation Guidebook, published as a pdf in 2018 (attached below) and adapted to a website in 2022, supports Tribes in their efforts to prepare for climate change. The Guidebook provides a comprehensive framework for climate change adaptation planning that explicitly recognizes the distinct circumstances of Tribal governments, culture, and knowledge systems while highlighting exemplary efforts by Tribes to adapt to climate change. 

The Guidebook’s framework has five major steps:

  • Step 1: Center the Tribe’s Adaptation Effort
  • Step 2: Identify Concerns and Gather Information
  • Step 3: Assess Vulnerability
  • Step 4: Plan for Action 
  • Step 5: Implement and Monitor Actions

Supporting materials:

  • Traditional Knowledges: The Guidebook includes considerations for integrating and protecting Traditional Knowledges throughout the adaptation planning process relying on the Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges (TKs) in Climate Change Initiatives
  • Resources: The Guidebook integrates external resources throughout the climate adaptation planning framework that provide greater context and additional guidance on particular aspects of the adaptation planning process.
  • Tribal Examples: The Guidebook highlights examples from Tribal climate initiatives across the United States that relate to and illustrate a particular activity within the climate adaptation planning framework.

Each step is broken down into a number of activities. Embedded within each activity are suggested tasks, guidance on incorporating and protecting Traditional Knowledges, guiding questions, Tribal examples, resources, and additional tips on engaging the Tribal community and documenting the adaptation planning process. 

The Guidebook and website were created by the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University and Adaptation International along with multiple contributors.

Managing Organizations

The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI), based at Oregon State University (OSU), is a network of over 100 researchers at OSU, the University of Oregon, Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, and affiliated federal and state labs.

Adaptation International is focused exclusively on helping communities, agencies, and organizations prepare for the impacts of climate change. Adaptation International specializes in bridging the gap between climate science and community action and developing the tools and strategies necessary to mainstream climate change preparedness. Adaptation International staff has expertise in climate change science, adaptation strategy development and prioritization, public health, public policy, strategic planning, community engagement, and stakeholder involvement.