Climate change is altering the very fabric of indigenous people—especially that of coastal communities. They have witnessed the destruction of their freshwater streams, lakes, watersheds, coral reefs, and the devastating decline of fish and wildlife.
At the First Stewards symposium in Washington, D.C. in July, a resolution was drafted by the coastal tribes of Washington—the Hoh, Makah and Quileute tribes and the Quinault Indian Nation, the hosts of the call to action. The resolution sent to the U.S. Congress and President Obama requests formal recognition of the coastal indigenous people and their expertise in understanding and adapting to changes in their natural systems. A copy of the resolution can be found at firststewards.org.
“E hume i ka malo, e ho`okala i ka ihe,” said Kitty Simonds, vice chairman of the First Stewards board of directors and executive director of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. “We are girding our loincloth and sharpening our spears to undertake this project and are asking President Obama, the U. S. Congress and others to engage in sincere and earnest consultation with us, so our cultures, our peoples and our world can survive and thrive.”
Simonds can attest to their traditional knowledge.
“On our small islands in the Pacific, we indigenous Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro and Refaluwasch have survived for millennia by adhering to our ancestors’ wisdom of fashioning tools, thatching roofs and conserving resources in preparation of anticipated weather, both good and bad,” Simonds said in the resolution.