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Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad: A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu

Bay Mills TAM Workshop: Participants at a June 2019 workshop at the Bay Mills Indian Community used Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad: A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu to design and communicate their own climate adaptation project ideas.  Photo by Katy Bresette, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Director's Choice
A Minute with the Scientist

Stephen Handler: Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe ezhitwaad, which means, basically, doing things in an Anishinaabe way. ‘Anishinaabe’ is the term that Ojibwe tribes across the Great Lakes region use to refer to themselves, they're the Anishinaabe people.

My name is Stephen Handler, and I'm a climate change specialist with the U. S. Forest Service Northern Research Station and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science in Houghton, Michigan. And the Tribal [Climate] Adaptation Menu is the product of over two years of work among a team of 20 authors representing a range of organizations from federal agencies, tribal agencies, universities, and academic institutions all coming together over hundreds of hours of work.

The spark for this [Tribal Climate Adaptation] Menu occurred as we were testing a new watershed management adaptation tool and gathered a bunch of people together to talk about how climate change affects hydrology and water resources in forested landscapes. We had strong participation from tribal members at this workshop, we had a team of folks working on a wild rice restoration project, as an adaptation case study. And, after the workshop, a couple of them came up to us workshop organizers and said, ‘Hey, this is great. The way you talk about adaptation is really helpful. We like the resources that you provide. But, there's something missing, it's not the way we would have written it.’ And our tools, and the way we talk about climate adaptation, didn't feel like a perfect fit for recognizing their cultural values and the way they interact with the natural world. And so, that was really the spark. You know, ‘This is great, but it could be better.’ And so, that kicked off a series of discussions and kind of broadened our team of partners around this idea of: what would a climate change adaptation menu look like, that truly reflected and was built upon, the Ojibwe perspective and set of values?

Staff from the Northern Research Station helped create a new resource to help incorporate indigenous perspectives and traditional ecological knowledge into climate change adaptation planning. This resource is already being used to help tribal natural resources professionals develop climate adaptation plans and to help nontribal organizations communicate with tribal communities.

Traditional and indigenous knowledge and perspectives have not often been recognized in climate adaptation for natural and cultural resources. Staff from the Northern Research Station and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science worked with a diverse team representing tribal, academic, intertribal, and federal entities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan to create Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad: A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu to make a stronger connection between indigenous values and climate adaptation planning. The Tribal Adaptation Menu is an organized collection of climate change adaptation actions for natural resource management, designed to help land managers identify suitable actions for their situation. A companion Guiding Principles document describes considerations for working with tribal communities, such as the importance of respect and reciprocity in interactions with people and the natural world. The team is using the menu in workshops to help natural resources staff brainstorm appropriate adaptation actions, and as a communication tool for persons or organizations interested in the needs and values of diverse tribal communities. The menu will be released in an editable format to allow tribes from around the country to tailor it to their own needs.




Research Partners

External Partners

  • Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • College of Menominee Nation
  • Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan
  • Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
  • Michigan Technological University
  • 1854 Treaty Authority
  • Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center