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Shifting Seasons: Building Tribal Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation Summit

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Summit participants on a field trip at the College of Menominee Nation.  Photo: Julie Edler.

On October 14-17, participants from tribal, federal, state, higher education and non-profit agencies and organizations came together for the Shifting Seasons: Building Tribal Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation Summit. The program was presented by the Sustainable Development Institute of the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin and partially funded by the Northeast Climate Science Center.

The four-day event focused on building relationships and increasing involvement in climate change. Pre-summit events included a tour of the Menominee community and forest, and a student information session to help provide better understanding on how to present and network at conferences. The site visits of the Menominee community and forest plots set the stage for climate change discussion and provided a context for participants to generate and share thoughts and provide recommendations on how local resources can be coordinated to build community resilience.

Over the course of the summit, 153 participants, including representatives from 13 tribes and tribal nations, heard from various speakers as well as engaged with one another in small group workshops. Dr. Michelle Staudinger, Science Coordinator of the Northeast Climate Science Center, gave a broad, national perspective on national and regional impacts on ecological resources as well as how the NE CSC is working to engage tribes across the region.

Mary Ratnaswamy, Director of the NE CSC, said "The DOI Northeast Climate Science Center was proud to help support our Consortium partner, College of Menominee Nation, and this tremendous gathering, the Shifting Seasons Summit.  It brought together dozens of tribal representatives across the Northeast and Midwest, as well as natural/cultural resource managers, scientists and climate adaptation specialists.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to hear and learn from so many unique perspectives about climate change and our shared environment, and how we might work together to help future generations carry these responsibilities.  My congratulations to everyone who engaged in this inspiring event."

An Eco-café created an opportunity for summit participants to talk with one another on how tribes may work collaboratively with a number of federal, state, academic-led and non-profit climate change initiatives. Each table was uniquely represented by various agents who focus on tribal, climate change adaptation, climate science, community organization, or other unique initiatives. Participants then re-convened as a group to tour the Menominee Logging Camp and Cultural Museums, in a social event and welcome dinner. Smokeytown also provided songs for the attendees to learn more about Menominee culture.

Overall four CSCs were represented at the Shifting Seasons Summit; in addition to NE CSC representatives, Jeff Morisette, Director of the North Central CSC, Kim Winton, Director of the South Central CSC, and Aranzazu Lascurain, Program Coordinator for the SE CSC all participated in Summit activities and hosted tables at the Eco Café.    

Bradly Potter, Science Coordinator for the Upper Midwest & Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative, was one of several federal agencies who attending the Summit, and said “the Shifting Seasons Summit was an excellent place to learn about the ongoing climate adaptation work of tribes and first nations, as well as the work that remains.  The relationships made with tribal members, leaders, and academics will be invaluable to the LCC as we plan for a conservation future impacted by a rapidly changing climate. Seeing and hearing the passion and perspective of tribal members was uplifting and encouraging.”


Marie Schaefer, a graduate student at the Sustainable Development Institute and the College of Menominee Nation, reflected on her experience at Shifting Seasons, saying “One of the things that I was excited to see at the Shifting Seasons Summit was the relationships that were being built between individuals that normally aren't able to connect. In order to work on an issue as large as climate change, tribal members, non-tribal members, scientists and managers need to come together and I think the Shifting Seasons Summit was able to bring them together in a way that will have lasting impacts.”



More about the summit can be found on the Sustainable Development Institute’s website: