GA 3 Conference Discussion Questions

Q1: What sociopolitical, ecological, or climate related changes are impacting your community? 

  • Alaska: Water issues—lack of snow, rain instead of snow, wetter summers Shrinking glaciers, salmon cut off from salmon runs, droughts, shifts in traditional food and staples. Sociopolitical: transportation, isolation, poverty, affordable housing, drug-related crime.
  • Washington: Pollution in Salish Sea affecting mussels, clams and other Native foods.
  • California: Critical levels of drought, housing overdevelopment, habitat destruction, high cost of education
  • Oklahoma: Biome shifts due to climate change
  • Arizona and New Mexico: Extreme weather—tornadoes, flooding; drought and erosion; water disputes; uranium mining pollution; shifts in food biome, heat impacts on elderly. Elders say sun is not rising in same position.
  • Montana: Water issues, Shrinking glaciers, Free-ranging buffalo, Berry season moving north, Tourists raiding medicinal plants, Underrepresentation and under-education of tribal members.
  • Minnesota: Ice-out dates changing, Severe climatic events, Effects on wild rice and other traditional plants, Urbanization of lake ecosystems, Growing divide between haves and have-nots, Impacts of mining, oil pipelines, Impacts on forest, prairie biomes.
  • Kansas: Destruction of sacred sites, Conversion of wetlands to highways, drought, misguided attempts to “restore” ecosystems
  • Florida: Sea level rise and salt water intrusion, governor enforcing “no climate change” rule, Wetlands converted to condominiums, Poverty, Lack of environmental awareness, Failure to make connections between land and food
  • Carribean: Severe environmental degradation
  • Columbia, South America: Less rain and more sun, Wetlands filled in, Indigenous peoples fighting mining companies, Struggle between government and people

Q2: What is needed to work on issues affecting your community?

Q3: What success stories are there for solving real community problems?

  • In Alaska, Alaskan Rivers and lands are being protected. In some places only Alaska Natives can hunt and fish. The issue is a continuing battle, though, as everyone wants to hunt and fish. In Fairbanks the community is being engaged in participatory research, with the community retaining ownership. In South East Alaska the community planted blueberries, which is a local first foods. It is seen as an economic opportunity which is embraced in schools. Native language is also being taught in public classes and in schools.
  • Yakima County, Washington there was high poverty, and a high dropout rate. Heritage University was founded with a mission to help multicultural students, many of whom are the first in their family to go to college. Ninety-eight percent qualify for English as a Second Language or English Language Learner status, and for state and federal aid. Others schools had failed for them, but Heritage University is a success story, providing both education, and training for educators. The Yakima Nation also won court battles in the 1990’s regarding dams. These victories led to wetland restoration, land purchase, cultural gatherings and feasts, and increased hunting.
  • In Arizona, the White Mountain Apache partnered with US Fish & Wildlife to come up with conservation strategy to recover the Apache Trout, an endangered species. This represents one example of a successful partnership between US government and tribes.
  • In Wisconsin, the Menominee Nation manages a sustainable forest which is over 200 years old. They have a mill, but rely on signs that the tree is sick or dying to decide which are ready to be cut down. Unlike many nations which have been forcibly moved, this tribe is still on its original lands.
  • In Minnesota, The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, working together with the State of Minnesota and the federal government has brought the Red Lake Walleye, a culturally important food, from the brink of extinction. The population collapsed in the 1990’s and fishing was suspended in the lake for 10 years. The population has rebounded and the lake is open with a two-fish per bag limit. The Red Lake Band is also working to restore sturgeon in the lake. In addition to stocking fingerlings, restoring fish passage by removing or modifying dams remains a continuing effort throughout the Red River Basin.

Q4: How does the Geoscience Alliance support your personal, professional, and academic growth and that of your community?

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