TJ8.5 Relevance of Climate Variability to Indigenous Agriculturalists in Oklahoma

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 2:45 PM
Ballroom F (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Randy A. Peppler, CIMMS/University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

The contemporary relevance of the impacts of climate variability on Indigenous peoples manifests itself not only in changes in the material world but also in awareness and in the public discourse. In Facing the Storm: Indian Tribes, Climate- Induced Weather Extremes and the Future for Indian Country, the National Wildlife Federation (2011, p. 2) reported, ‘‘The high dependence of Tribes upon their lands and natural resources to sustain their economic, cultural, and spiritual practices, the relatively poor state of their infrastructure, and the great need for financial and technical resources to recover from such events all contribute to the disproportionate impact on Tribes.’’ For this talk I will report on the perceptions of Native American agriculturalists in southwestern Oklahoma regarding climate variability and the relevance of that variability’s impacts on their livelihoods. As reported in detail in Peppler (2017), climate change is a real phenomenon perceived at the local scale that is impacting their ability to observe relied-upon indicators, and has caused them to make changes in their agricultural endeavors. Generally, it was conveyed that weather and climate have become less reliable or predicable with respect to occurrences such as normal seasonal changes or expected rains, with perceptions of more drought and heat, and less snow but more ice – a general feeling that the climate and its weather have become more variable overall. This variability has made once-trusted observational signs less reliable, and is forcing the agriculturalists to adjust their insights about them and adapt their practices. National Wildlife Federation, 2011: Facing the Storm: Indian Tribes, Climate-Induced Weather Extremes and the Future for Indian Country. The National Wildlife Federation, 28 pp. Peppler, R. A., 2017: ‘‘It’s not balancing out like it should be’’: Perceptions of local climate variability in Native Oklahoma. Weather, Climate, and Society, 9, 317-219.
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