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Integrating Crow Environmental Knowledge and Science to Better Understand Climate Change Impacts


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"Integrating Crow Environmental Knowledge and Science to Better Understand Climate Change Impacts" presented by John Doyle and Christine Martin

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Integrating Crow Environmental Knowledge and Science to Better Understand Climate Change Impacts

  1. 1. Integrating Crow Environmental Knowledge and Science to Better Understand Climate Change Impacts John Doyle, Christine Martin, JoRee LaFrance, Margaret Eggers, Margaret Hiza Redsteer, Crow Environmental Health Steering Committee, Anne K. Camper
  2. 2. • Crow Tribal knowledge of climate and ecological changes • Western science data on historical and projected climate changes • How do these knowledge sources compare? • These knowledge sources are complementary and both are essential to addressing environmental health issues in our community. Researching our collective community expertise to understand and address impacts of climate change
  3. 3. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK): Qualitative Research design In depth interviews with tribal members Content Analysis of interviews Collection of themes revealed by interviews Finding correlations with western data Western Science (WS): Historical data Climate projections Quantitative observations Finding correlations with Traditional Ecological Knowledge data Methodology
  4. 4. Qualitative Interviews Harvesting a medicinal plant with ancient spiritual importance to the Tribe. • Interviews w/Tribal members (n=26), men (n=14) and women (n=12). • Interviews were transcribed and a content analysis was done by Crow Environmental Health Steering Committee, following standard practice in qualitative research.
  5. 5. “When I was a child back in the ‘70s the snow was very deep every year to where I remember there was snow drifts every year and they were at least 3-6 feet high. We used to build tunnels in them every year when we were kids. Nowadays, in the winter, we don’t see that drift that high. Nowadays, the snow drifts are about 6 inches to a foot high.” TEK: Winter snowfall is declining
  6. 6. WS: Total Annual Snowfall Annual snowfall in millimeters from Hardin MT (1912-2012) and Crow Agency MT (1895- 1990) observation sites, calculated in water years. (Data source: National Climate Data Center).
  7. 7. “I think that the winters are different. There’s fewer days that are subzero that I would observe. It seems to me that I used to count on a month of subzero weather maybe 6-weeks especially in January and February. And not before Christmas or not before the holiday or the new year. I remember a lot more snow but maybe it’s just because of the hard work that you have to do when there’s snow.” TEK: Winter Temperatures Are Milder
  8. 8. TEK: Spring ice break-up has become ice melt “Ice break-up is a rare commodity. I recall a time when they would float down the river on ice chunks that were about 9-inches thick and the size of a car hood. Ice jams haven’t occurred for years. The ice break-ups don’t happen like they used to and if they do, the timing is off..”
  9. 9. “Winter is coming later. Snowfall is coming later in the fall. The freezing period for the fall is coming later so the leaves are falling later as well. Warmer temperatures in the fall. Decrease in precipitation for the spring indicated by the amount of mud outside. Snowpack in the mountains is melting sooner so you are able to go into the mountains in June when they would usually go up in July.” TEK: Winter Weather Patterns are Changing
  10. 10. WS: Increasing average annual temperature • Hardin, MT 1948-2007 (solid triangles) • Crow Agency, MT 1948-1991 (hollow diamonds) Showing the increase in average temperatures from a mean of 45.6oF in the 1950s to 50.1oF since 2000 (Data source: National Climate Data Center)
  11. 11. TEK: Longer, Hotter Summers “We have a few days of hot weather in March, then some in April but the hot weather comes in June and lasts until September, it’s longer, the heat, it appears to me to be longer and hotter real or more uncomfortable.”
  12. 12. WS: Days Exceeding 90° F are Increasing • The red line indicates a linear trend of increasing high temperatures.
  13. 13. WS: Increased Average Annual Temperature (historical and projected) Source: U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit
  14. 14. “We’re losing the annual precipitation that we enjoyed in the years that have gone by. All we can do is just have memories and hope that eventually the cycle will come back to that time when we had ample moisture and we were at leisure with plant life, berry picking, root gathering and other ceremonial activities that go on here year after year.” TEK: Less rainfall
  15. 15. WS: Declining annual precipitation The decline in winter snowpack is not being made up during other seasons; average annual precipitation in MT CD5 has been declining by 0.11” per decade.
  16. 16. TEK: Severe spring floods are more frequent “… that floodwater came through their houses, and that house is condemned. For people that is such a hardship because we just don’t have to money to relocate. So they just had to let their house dry out and move back in, even with the same carpet. So that was a community health concern.”
  17. 17. Little Bighorn River flood History Little Bighorn River, Crow Reservation, Montana. Major floods in 1978, 2007, and 2011 were unprecedented and cause concern about future flooding. (Data source: USGS 2012) 2007 2011
  18. 18. TEK: Increasing Wildfires 2012 fires just east of Crow Agency. “There are more fires now days and they’re more severe and more widespread and they do more damage. To me it’s all obvious and apparent that we in fact are in global warming… When it rains, the mudslides washes away everything…” 2015 fires just east of Crow Agency.
  19. 19. WS: Montana Drought Monitor Montana drought index recorded September 26, 2017.
  20. 20. TEK: Loss of Bird Species “One big thing I noticed is that the dove that we used to have here it had its own song and I always really liked that song. I could hear it and other birds in the morning… their different sounds all blended together in one big ol’ symphony. It was just a great thing to me. But that dove is no longer here…” “Prairie chickens [sage grouse] used to be more plentiful. I remember when I was a little guy we used to cruise around and see them all the time… they would be just right alongside of the road, eating or doing their thing. I don’t see them around much anymore the way we used to.”
  21. 21. TEK: Loss of Plants “I think when my family was younger we did a lot of just going around in the mountains, hunting and camping. When I get next to the rivers, what I am doing is usually searching for things. Like I am looking for mint or I am picking berries of different kinds. Or maybe I am looking for wild onions and carrots and things. And those things changed, they’ve changed a lot. I feel like I can hardly ever find mint where I would use to find it a lot. And that is really usually along waterways. So there is a difference in growth. Why? I don’t know. But why plants move around so much, I just don’t know. But I do think that it probably has to do with water and the season of time when the water is available. There are places where I used to constantly go for certain things that I have had to look for new places because things just aren’t growing where they [used to be].”
  22. 22. TEK: Loss of Amphibians “When we were little we used to catch and release frogs and that was part of our activity at the river… there would just be tons of frogs in those little water holes next to the river, and turtles and salamanders… We used to see who could find the most… there was about 5 or 6 of us playing that game where we could each collect our own frogs… But now when I go over there, the frogs are still there but they’re not all along the river like they used to be… you kind of have to hunt them out.”
  23. 23. TEK: Loss of Berry Resources “There used to be a bunch of patches of raspberries and now they only know of one or two patches. And now they won’t tell me where they’re at. They said, ‘They’re rare and I’m not going to tell you, they’re mine.’ The chokecherries weren’t as delicious, they weren’t as sweet. None of them are as sweet as they used to be. That might have something to do with the decrease in bees… or the frost and thawing period, or it could be the late precipitation. Because if you are not getting the water then you are not growing as early in the season…”
  24. 24. “Maybe I’m an old timer. Maybe older generations before have said this about the younger generations. Our younger people are addicted to video, audio, cell phones. They don’t sit down and eat breakfast and dinner together… that real strong element of our tradition and culture – I see it kind of going away… We’re losing all of the good stuff that we think about with culture, society, family and tribe – a lot of that is being lost.” • Some ceremonies and personal conscience are being lost. • Plants and animals are disappearing. • We are slowly losing our knowledge that needs to be passed down. Loss
  25. 25. Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western Science concurrences: Western science provides quantifiable observations/results Milder winters & Decreasing in winter snowfall Increasing temperatures in the summer Decrease in precipitation Increasing frequency of spring flooding Increase in frequency of summer wildfires Traditional Ecological Knowledge Exclusiveness: Traditional Ecological Knowledge provides qualitative observations Decline/loss of spring ice break-up in the rivers Mid-winter thaws are impacting timing of trees and shrubs Reductions in grass & cattail height Declining frog and bird populations in their abundance and health How does TEK compare to Western Science?
  26. 26. Two Ways of Knowing Crow Environmental Health Steering Committee Traditional Ecological Knowledge: There is an energy and a power and we are a part of that energy. We are born into this way of knowing. Spiritual growth Oral history Western Science: Data
  27. 27. Conclusions • We have lived and survived in the same place for many generations – so we see and experience climate change impacts that go beyond what science is currently monitoring. • Our Tribal and other communities with substantial subsistence activities and traditional uses of water are at particular risk from climate change, and have greater adaptation challenges. • Both sources of knowledge are essential to understanding, anticipating and planning.
  28. 28. It takes a whole community Our thanks and appreciation to the many dedicated community members and student interns who have participated or are participating in this project, and to our colleagues with the Crow Tribe, Crow School, Navajo Nation, Cheyenne River Sioux, University of New Mexico, IHS, EPA Region 8, USGS, Chief Plenty Coup State Park, U of Wyoming, Cold Spring Harbor Lab, J. Craig Ventre Institute & HHMI.
  29. 29. It takes all of us to work on change Crow Environmental Health Steering Committee John Doyle – PI & Apsaalooke Water & Wastewater Authority Myra Lefthand – Crow Judicial Branch Sara Young – Retired educator Eric Bird In Ground – Crow Tribe Legislator Christine Martin – Little Big Horn College, Project staff Emery Three Irons – Student member Roberta Other Medicine – Indian Health Service hospital Dionne Pretty On Top – Indian Health Service hospital Non-voting academic partners: Drs. Anne Camper & Mari Eggers Little Big Horn College Dr. David Yarlott , Dean Lefthand, Dean Small, and many dedicated business office staff Principal Investigators John Doyle, PI LBHC Dr. Margaret Eggers, PI MSU Dr. Anne K. Camper, PI MSU Dr. Deborah Keil, PI MSU Dr. Johnnye Lewis, PI UNM Dr. Melissa Gonzales, CoPI UNM Dr. Stephanie Ewing, PI MSU MSU Bozeman - Current and past student contributors: Keenan Brame, Eric Dietrich, Candy Felicia, Jonah Morsette, Varsha Rao, Chris Allen & ~ 10 Engineers Without Borders volunteers MSU Collaborators Dr. Vanessa Simonds Dr. Jane Klassen Dr. Brian Bothner Dr. Ellen Lauchnor Dr. Tim McDermott Dr. Anita Moore-Nall Dr. Al Parker Dr. Lillian Lin Bighorn Valley Health Center Dr. David Mark & colleagues & out of state collaborators
  30. 30. Thank you to our funders • RD83559401-0 (NCER STAR; PIs Doyle, Camper) from the Environmental Protection Agency; EPA STAR Fellowships Research Assistance Agreements #FP91674401 and #FP91693601 (Eggers; Richards); Awards #RD83370601-0 (NCER STAR; PIs: Ford, Camper), #EPA-OECA-OEJ-13-01(Environmental Justice; PI: Doyle) • Center for Native Environmental Health Equity Research, 1P50ES026102-01 NIH Center of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH & EPA (PIs: Lewis & Gonzales), Subawards to MSU Bozeman (PIs: Keil, Eggers, Doyle) • National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Grant #P20MD002317 (PI: Christopher; Sub-award: Camper) • INBRE, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH. Grants #P20 RR- 16455-04 Subaward, Little Big Horn College (PI: Eggers); #P20GM103474 (PI: Keil) • National Science Foundation funding for student interns (EPSCoR, REU & more) The content is solely the responsibility of the authors; it has not been formally reviewed by any of the funders and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA does not endorse any of the products mentioned.
  31. 31. Questions?