Blackfeet Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The Blackfeet or Amskapi Pikuni Nation integrated their tribal government priorities, traditional values and ecological knowledge, climate change impact science, and a collective vision of the future to build this climate change adaptation plan. The plan is oriented around eight focal tribal resource management sectors of: Agriculture, Culture, Forestry, Fish, Wildlife, Land and Range, Water, and Human Health in northern Montana. Projected climate impacts were analyzed with experts within the Blackfeet Nation for each sector to create climate adaptation goals, strategies, and actions. "Our culture is our homelands, our ceremonies, our people, the ones that live in the air, on the land, and in the water. The continuance and protection of our culture is being achieved as we move forward in the adapting to a changing climate.”

Background information about tribal governance, history, culture and a socioeconomic profile of the Blackfeet Nation is given in the introductory material. Unlike many tribal nations within the U.S., the Amskapi Pikuni remain within their traditional homelands. The Blackfeet today control a greater amount of their land and resources within the Blackfeet Nation than at any time since the imposed Homestead and Dawes Acts of the early 20th century, and believe climate adaptation planning is critical while acquiring new land and water resources.

Observed changes from tribal members are described that match the local climate change trends and impacts that have been analyzed for the northwest Montana region. These assessments are summarized and, generally, climate change is likely to raise temperatures, increase precipitation and snowmelt in colder parts of the year, and decrease precipitation in hotter parts of the year in Montana. Climate change also is expected to change the prevalence of culturally significant plants and wildlife. 

Climate vulnerability and risk assessments were conducted and/or analyzed for each focal sector, and adaptation strategies were developed from these studies and participatory process. Each sector has a dedicated section with a detailed overview, observed and expected impacts, Preparedness Goals with related broad Strategies and specific Actions. For example, in the Water section, the following strategies and actions relate to the Goal: “Reduce the frequency of higher-intensity floods in order to reduce erosion, property damage, and habitat damage or change.”

Strategy: Promote wetlands, floodplains, and riparian area health because they offer capacity to mitigate floodwater and filter and store water

Actions:

  1. Protect key wetlands, restore wetlands, and divert water to wetlands in order to boost water storage and groundwater recharge
  2. Identify degraded riparian areas and employ stream restoration and beaver mimicry work, where appropriate
  3. Live trap and relocate beavers to restore wetlands

Beaver mimicry is one of the climate adaptation strategies for water storage in the Blackfeet Nation. Ksik stakii is the word for beaver in the Pikuni language. The Ksik Stakii Project is a 2-year demonstration project aiming to increase climate resilience through increased natural water storage by protecting beaver and restoring riparian areas. Much of the project is focused on innovative adaptation techniques and supporting tribal conversations about the critical roles of beaver and water protection.

The Blackfeet Nation climate adaptation planning process began in 2016, led by Gerald Wagner of the Blackfeet Environmental Office and was facilitated by the Center for Large Landscape Conservation. This climate plan will inform the Blackfeet Agricultural Resource Management Plan and Integrated Resource Management Plan to be developed within a few years of publication. 

 

Publication Date: April 2018

Related Organizations:

  • Blackfeet Nation
  • Center for Large Landscape Conservation

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Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan

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