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Climate Change through an Intersectional Lens

"Fish Sticks," by Jon Ivy, Coquille Indian Tribe

The USDA Forest Service has just published a new General Technical Report, Climate Change through an Intersectional Lens: Gendered Vulnerability and Resilience in Indigenous Communities in the United States, with Environmental Studies PhD candidate Kirsten Vinyeta as the lead author. The scientific and policy literature on climate change increasingly recognizes the vulnerabilities of indigenous communities and their capacities for resilience. The role of gender in defining how indigenous peoples experience climate change in the United States is a research area that deserves more attention.

Advancing climate change threatens the continuance of many indigenous cultural systems that are based on reciprocal relationships with local plants, animals, and ecosystems. These reciprocal relationships, and the responsibilities associated with them, are gendered in many indigenous communities. American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians experience colonization based on intersecting layers of oppression in which race and gender are major determinants. The coupling of climate change with settler colonialism is the source of unique vulnerabilities.

At the same time, gendered knowledge and gender-based activism and initiatives may foster climate change resilience. In this literature synthesis, we cross-reference international literature on gender and climate change, literature on indigenous peoples and climate change, and literature describing gender roles in Native America, in order to build an understanding of how gendered indignity may influence climate change vulnerability and resilience in indigenous communities in the United States.

The Environmental Studies program commends Kirsten Vinyeta for her excellent work on this publication and her contributions to the field!

(Photo Credit: “Fish Sticks,” by Jon Ivy, Coquille Indian Tribe)