Saturday, January 3, 2009

Indigenous People's Communities and Villages: Relocation Due to Climate Change

The other day I received this query from colleague Mark Dowie and was asked to share it. He is searching for examples of indigenous communities, villages, or towns that have had to relocated due to climate change. If you know of an example, please leave a comment.

Hello,

I am writing to seek your assistance for a book I am researching, tentatively entitled THE CANARY NARRATIVES: How Twenty Million Lost Their Homelands. I am in search of remote communities, indigenous and non-indigenous, that have been forced to abandon longstanding, traditional homelands as a consequence of climate change. I am hoping to describe in detail the experience of about a dozen communities existing in as many different ecosystems – montane, island, arctic, riverine, desert, forest, savannah, coastal etc.— that have been so devastated by storm, drought, flood, heat, wildfire, disease or other consequences of global warming, that the place that once supported them became unlivable and people were either forced off their land by fate or opted to relocate.
Indigenous Alaska Native Village Damaged Climate Change
Two examples I am already researching are Shishmaref, a storm battered coastal community in northeast Alaska, whose residents recently voted to relocate, and Lateu, a village on Tegua Island in Vanuatu I visited two years ago that has since been forced to move to higher ground by rising ocean levels. I have others in mind but need more to choose from.

If you know of even one community that has shared this experience, could you tell me as much as you can about it and perhaps provide the names and coordinates of others familiar with the community, particularly people with direct and immediately experience with the decision making process that lead to evacuation. I am particularly interested in finding tropical, montane, alpine, desert and riverine communities.

Thank you,
Mark Dowie
Tegua Island Indigenous Community Climate Change
If people know of examples of indigenous communities moving or relocating as a result of climate change, please leave a comment. This is an important issue, and I am sure we will be hearing of more indigenous communities moving in the near future due to climate change.

Related Indigenous People's Issues by Keywords



Use the Search Function at the Top to Find More Articles, Fellowships, Conferences, Indigenous Issues, Book Reviews, and Resources

2 comments:

shmohawk said...

I did some work for the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat of the Arctic Council in the fall and winter of 2008. At one meeting looking at Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change in the Arctic held in Copenhagen, Indigenous groups told of dramatic changes and described how northern peoples are scrambling to comprehend and then to adapt to these changes. Stories like that of Shishmaref in Alaska had parallels in Russia, Greenland, and Nunavut. They didn't match the situation exactly but they spoke to melting perma frost, changing migratory patterns, flooded villages.

Here's one excerpt from a report of that meeting, from a presentation by Gennady Inankeuyas, of RAIPON (Russian Indigenous Peoples):

Lakes and sea ice freezes later, causing hunters to leave later or not at all if conditions are unsafe. Spring thaws arrive earlier, making travel more hazardous since ice may be too thin to support safe transport. Migratory patterns change, causing wildlife to arrive in their usual places earlier or later, to leave at equally unpredictable times, or to disappear completely. Hunters who have been successful by adapting their methods in the past are not so successful anymore because the pace of change has occurred so quickly. To hunters and herders, this means they need to be on the land further and further from their communities for longer periods of time.

“They (hunters) may find the waters of rivers or lakes very high in the fall before freezing. The ice will freeze but water will drop, creating a gap between the ice cover and the water below. This creates a dangerous condition that hunters and reindeer have not experienced before, as they may fall through the ice into the gap below.”

Erosion of permafrost has meant that buildings (homes) may not be safe any longer, roads may no longer support traffic, and airfields may be deemed unsafe for landing. Entire communities have had to relocate from their former areas into other areas where at least basic health and emergency services may be found.

“However, once there, hunters and herders may find themselves in competition with local populations, other Indigenous Peoples. Homes may not exist for them. They may settle in with family or friends, but this creates overcrowding problems. Services may be overwhelmed since they are not designed to handle this new population. Governments may not recognize the situation or fail to act or help. So the impact on Indigenous Peoples is real and we believe it is directly due to climate change.”

Mark Dowie might contact the IPS office and request a copy of the report of that meeting, and of the PowerPoint presentation from Russia, along with email addresses of the participants.

I hope this helps.

Peter N. Jones said...

Thanks for the information shmohawk! I have to agree with you, indigenous peoples along coastlines are currently seeing the results of global climate change. Likewise, as you note, global climate change is having a wide range of impacts on indigenous peoples in many eco-regions, including the Arctic, Africa, Oceania, and in parts of South America. These impacts are bound to only increase in the coming years.

Also, thank you for the information on the report and meeting.

Post a Comment

Contribute to Indigenous People's Issues Today

Do you have a resource on indigenous peoples that you would like to share? Indigenous People's Issues is always looking for great new information, news, articles, book reviews, movies, stories, or resources.

Please send it along and we will do a feature. Email it to the Editor, Peter N. Jones: pnj "at" bauuinstitute.com.

Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources

Privacy Policy for Indigenous Peoples Issues Today (http://indigenousissuestoday.blogspot.com)

The privacy of our visitors to Indigenous Peoples Issues Today is important to us.

At Indigenous Peoples Issues Today, we recognize that privacy of your personal information is important. Here is information on what types of personal information we receive and collect when you use visit Indigenous Peoples Issues Today, and how we safeguard your information. We never sell your personal information to third parties.

Log Files

As with most other websites, we collect and use the data contained in log files. The information in the log files include your IP (internet protocol) address, your ISP (internet service provider, such as AOL or Shaw Cable), the browser you used to visit our site (such as Internet Explorer or Firefox), the time you visited our site and which pages you visited throughout our site.

Cookies and Web Beacons

We do use cookies to store information, such as your personal preferences when you visit our site. This could include only showing you a pop-up once in your visit, or the ability to login to some of our features, such as forums.

We also use third party advertisements on Indigenous Peoples Issues Today to support our site. Some of these advertisers may use technology such as cookies and web beacons when they advertise on our site, which will also send these advertisers (such as Google through the Google AdSense program) information including your IP address, your ISP, the browser you used to visit our site, and in some cases, whether you have Flash installed. This is generally used for geotargeting purposes (showing New York real estate ads to someone in New York, for example) or showing certain ads based on specific sites visited (such as showing cooking ads to someone who frequents cooking sites). Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on this site. Google's use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to users based on their visit to sites on the Internet. Users may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy.

You can chose to disable or selectively turn off our cookies or third-party cookies in your browser settings, or by managing preferences in programs such as Norton Internet Security. However, this can affect how you are able to interact with our site as well as other websites. This could include the inability to login to services or programs, such as logging into forums or accounts.

Thank you for understanding and supporting Indigenous Peoples Issues Today. We understand that some viewers may be concerned that ads are sometimes served for companies that negatively depict indigenous peoples and their cultures. We understand this concern. However, there are many legitimate companies that utilize Google Adwords and other programs to attract visitors. Currently, we have no way of deciphering between the two - we leave it up to the viewer to decide whether the companies serving ads are honest or not.