The University of Arizona

Southwest Tribal Data Summit: Partnering with Southwest Indigenous Communities to Identify Data Challenges, Needs, and Opportunities | CLIMAS

Southwest Tribal Data Summit: Partnering with Southwest Indigenous Communities to Identify Data Challenges, Needs, and Opportunities

Southwest Tribal Data Summit: Partnering with Southwest Indigenous Communities to Identify Data Challenges, Needs, and Opportunities

CLIMAS Lead:  

As Indigenous communities in the U.S.and around the world confront ongoing climate hazards (e.g., drought) and plan for future problems related to climate change such as threats to human health, a variety of challenges have arisen related to the data necessary to support decision making. Climate monitoring on Native American lands can range from sparse to nearly nonexistent, particularly in some of the remote regions of the Southwest, while inconsistent, irrelevant, and poor quality community health data also limits effective decision-making for Native nations, including decisions related to community climate resilience. Even when data is available, the capacity of an Indigenous community to manage and analyze data may be limited by few staff who are frequently juggling multiple tasks and may have little to no background in working with climate data. As Native nations seek to utilize the best available data and information to build climate resilience and healthy, sustainable communities, issues around data relevance, ownership, access, possession, and control arise, and tribes may not wish to make that data widely available even though it may be helpful when seeking funding or engaging in regional climate adaptation planning. This project will convene a group of experts from across Arizona and New Mexico Native nations to identify and articulate: 1) activities and decisions that may be informed by climate data and information; 2) ways that Indigenous communities in the region are currently using climate data and information; 3) an inventory of data-related problems and potential solutions; 4) specific opportunities for partnerships between and among Indigenous communities, federal partners, and universities to improve data-utilization for building community climate resilience.

Central Question: What issues do Indigenous nations in the Southwest confront with respect to utilizing data to inform climate resilience activities?

Climate monitoring on Native American lands can range from sparse to nearly nonexistent, particularly in some of the remote regions of the Southwest. Inconsistent, irrelevant, and poor quality community health data also limits effective decision-making for Native nations, including decisions related to community climate resilience. Even when data is available, the capacity of an Indigenous community to manage and analyze data may be limited by few staff who are frequently juggling multiple tasks or have little to no background in working with climate data. As Native nations seek to utilize the best available information to build climate resilience and healthy, sustainable communities, issues around data relevance, ownership, access, possession, and control also arise. This project begins to address these issues by convening a multiple day meeting in September 2018 – “Supporting Tribal Data Governance for Community Resilience: A Southwest Indigenous Climate Summit.” This invite-only event will foster discussion about unique issues surrounding Indigenous data sovereignty, tribal data governance, and Indigenous knowledge related to climate resilience efforts within Southwest Indigenous communities.