3rd Annual Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples Conference:
Environment, Culture and Indigenous Sovereignty in the Americas

The University of Oregon will host the 3rd Annual Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples Conference and Student Symposium: Environment, Culture and Indigenous Sovereignty in the Americas on December 2-3, 2014. The University will welcome two distinguished keynote speakers to the conference: Dr. Mirna Cunningham Kain and Patricia Cochran. Dr. Cunningham Kain is an internationally renowned advocate for Indigenous peoples’ rights and women’s rights who has served Indigenous peoples in countless fashions, most recently as chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2011-2013). Patricia Cochran is currently Executive Director of the Alaska Native Science Commission (ANSC), an organization that works to create links and collaborations among scientists, researchers and Alaska Native communities.
Tentative Schedule of Events:
Tuesday, December 2nd
5 pm: Poster Session and Reception (UO Global Scholars Hall)
7 pm: Keynote Lecture (Many Nations, Longhouse)
Wednesday, December 3rd
9 am – 3:30 pm: Student Symposium – Panel Presentations
 (Many Nations, Longhouse)
University Collaboration
Through this conference, three courses at the University of Oregon will come together in a variety of ways to exchange ideas, methodologies and research related to culture, sovereignty and indigenous peoples. These courses will explore separate issues, but have related themes including the nexus between traditional knowledge and science, historic and future threats to indigenous sovereignty, and the impacts of changing environments on indigenous culture. All students enrolled in these courses will have an opportunity to present their research papers through poster presentations, and several students will have the opportunity to give oral presentations.
1. Decolonized Research: Traditional Knowledge, History and ScienceAll three courses will explore the nexus of history, traditional knowledge and western thought and science that informs present-day decisions about indigenous resources and ways of life.  Epistemologies of knowledge among indigenous peoples may look very different than the epistemologies of science. And yet, in the context of changing environments, the threats of climate change, and other events that are shaping indigenous communities today, traditional knowledge holds an important place in informing indigenous strategies for responding to these changing times. Decolonized research methods that rely on tribal leadership and direction can result in knowledge about indigenous issues that is culturally relevant and respectful of knowledge that must be held sacred by tribes and knowledge holders.
2. Cultural Values: Indigenous peoples are often tied to the earth through a relationship of reciprocity that shapes indigenous understanding of how impacts to the earth relate to impacts to indigenous culture. Understanding cultural values can more directly relate to how indigenous peoples may react or respond to significant changes. In the context of climate change, cultural resources may be threatened by changes in temperature and precipitation, rising sea levels, drought and wildfire. These impacts may directly threaten plant and animal species, or result in a loss of access that indigenous peoples have to these resources (and cultural relations).
3. Historic and Current Threats to Indigenous Sovereignty: The infrastructure of colonization has resulted in geographic borders and fixed allocations of rights that limit tribal access to historic lands, settlements and cultural resources. Climate change, viewed by Indigenous Scholar Daniel Wildcat, as another “removal” of indigenous peoples is threatening tribal sovereignty by further limits on access to cultural resources, and the forced relocation of indigenous peoples from their lands because of climate change.
Sponsors: This event is co-sponsored by the UO Williams FundUO Robert D. Clark Honors College, the UO Environmental Studies Program, the UO Climate Change Research Group, the Office of the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, University Housing. The lecture is also part of the Tribal Climate Change Project, a collaborative project between the UO Environmental Studies Program and the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station.
For more information, contact: Kathy Lynn, UO Environmental Studies Program (541-346-5777, kathy@uoregon.edu) or Mark Carey, UO Clark Honors College (541-346-8077, carey@uoregon.edu).

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