Assessing Tribal College Priorities for Enhancing Climate Adaptation on Reservation Lands
Author: Helen M. Fillmore, Loretta Singletary, and John Phillips,Issue #163
On reservation lands, tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) are key to preparing indigenous communities to adapt to the effects of a changing climate. The original mission of TCUs, to improve access to higher education and to sustain the cultural heritage of indigenous people, facilitates close ties between TCU faculty and staff and the indigenous communities they serve. Since 1994, the land‐grant status of TCUs allows access to limited federal funds in support of research, education, and outreach to improve food security, natural resource management, and rural quality of life, while expanding public access to higher education to underserved populations in remote rural areas. This study was designed to assess the priorities for enhancing climate adaptation on reservation lands. It summarizes the results of an assessment implemented at the 2016 Annual First Americans Land‐Grant Consortium Conference. Study participants included faculty, administrators, outreach educators, support staff, and students representing 25 of the 37 TCUs in the United States. Results from this national assessment suggest that in order for TCUs to effectively meet the climate adaptation needs of indigenous communities, additional fiscal and human resource investments are necessary. Specifically, this includes fiscal support to enhance climate science teaching, research, and professional development programs. Additional goals include creating or expanding food‐sovereignty programs, increasing community outreach education, investigating climate change impacts on water resource quality, access, and related ecological services, and exploring renewable and alternative energy opportunities.