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Assessing climate data and information needs to enhance the resiliency of water resources on reservation lands in the southwestern United States
AuthorFillmore, Helen M.
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Indigenous communities are among some of the most vulnerable to climate change impacts, particularly with regards to their water resources. Planning eﬀectively to remain resilient within existing socio-cultural, political, and economic constraints requires an assessment of the climate data and information needs most pressing in Indigenous communities. Integrating diverse Indigenous stakeholder perspectives and knowledges with western-science is fundamental in creating comprehensive climate adaptation plans for Indigenous communities. This process is also very complex due to the complex interconnections between Indigenous communities and the hydrologic systems in which they depend. This study seeks to support such integration through the use of a participatory research design that assesses data and information needs critical to enhancing climate adaptation on reservation lands in the Southwestern United States. This study outlines the development of a survey instrument implemented at the 2016 and 2017 Native Waters on Arid Lands Tribal Climate Summit and highlights the results of statistical tests using responses to the 33 Likert-type scale questions. Study participants include tribal government workers, agriculturalists, researchers, and outreach professionals interested in climate adaptation on reservation lands. Results from this regional study indicate that more than 75% of the 98 voluntary participants are Native American and 83% reside in either the Great Basin or Colorado River Basins. Participants prioritize data and information that serve to: assess climate change impacts, enhance food security, and integrate Traditional Knowledge of their communities into reservation-wide adaptation planning and action. In this data-scarce region, respondents prioritize water quality data as their highest need followed by streamﬂow and temperature data. Results from this study may assist in collaborative socio-hydrologic research eﬀorts with Indigenous communities by reducing assumptions about climate data and information needs. Furthermore, regional needs assessments with Indigenous communities related to climate impacts are rare relative to case studies due to the extensive diversity that exists among these communities. This study includes a discussion on ethical collaboration when conducting such research, with special attention to protecting the data sovereignty of Indigenous communities when sharing research information with the general public.