Climate Change Resilience

AIHEC’s climate change resilience projects support Tribes and TCUs addressing climate resilience challenges through research, adaptation planning/implementation and workforce development programs.AIHEC is committed to supporting TCUs and Tribal communities with their efforts to identify and respond effectively to current and emerging climate vulnerabilities.


Climate change is posing serious challenges to Tribal nations and communities across the U.S. Challenges to agriculture, public health and safety, sustainable economic development and stable habitats for culturally and economically significant plant and animal species require a collaborative effort on the part of all Tribal resilience stakeholders. 

Climate Change Initiatives

AIHEC staff working with the BIA Tribal Resilience Liaison program are working with the Department of the Interior (DOI) Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs), the University of Colorado Boulder Environmental Science Innovation and Inclusion Lab (ESIIL) and other partners to improve the identification of tribal science needs, support climate adaptation planning, coordinate professional development activities that address TCU and Tribal training needs, and support Federal agencies coordinating with Tribes to address climate challenges. This work is supported through funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Climate Resilience Program.

AIHEC’s Tribal Climate Resilience Liaison Anissa McKenna works with the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (SWCASC) located on the campus of the University of Arizona. She conducts outreach to tribal communities in the SWCASC service area, providing information about climate vulnerabilities and supporting them in their planning efforts.  She helps to ensure that Tribal communities have access to SWCASC and other regional and national climate science resources needed for their climate change adaptation planning and implementation work.

The USGS Climate Adaptation Science Centers (originally Climate Science Centers) were established in 2011 to provide objective scientific information, tools, and techniques that land, water, wildlife, and cultural resource managers, tribal organizations, and other interested parties can apply to anticipate, monitor, and adapt to climate change impacts in the southwestern United States.

AIHEC hosts the TCU Climate Resilience Student Research Program, a 12-week summer experiential learning opportunity through which undergraduate students participate in identifying and addressing climate change and energy issues in their respective American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The program is designed for TCU Indigenous students who are passionate about taking action to address climate change affecting Tribal lands and supporting Tribal leadership in all areas of Nation-building affected by climate challenges. Students acquire an understanding of the range of approaches, tools, and ethical guidelines for climate research, a grounded understanding of different types of climate change and energy data, and the different ways to organize research and planning for climate change adaptation and renewable energy. Previous projects have included climate change impacts on water resources (e.g., lakes, rivers and snowfall), vegetation (e.g., forests, gardening and farming), soil and the effects of those resource changes as related to culture and community.

Students meet weekly with mentor support. Near-Peer Mentors provide student support toward an understanding of climate change, and serve in a role-modelling capacity, providing perspectives related to Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing. The Near-Peer Mentors work in close collaboration with a Professional Development Mentor. The Professional Development Mentor leads twice-weekly workshops, describing topics relevant to climate change, and potential student career pathways in that area.

In this program, students will:

Project Coordinator:  Frank Brannon, fbrannon@aihec.org, 205.310.4740

Funding for the program is provided by the Bay and Paul Foundation.