2015 Conference

  2015 Geoscience Alliance Conference

GA3:  A Changing Climate’s Effect on Rivers, Estuaries, Oceans, First Foods, and Tribal Health

21-23 March, 2015, Portland, Oregon

Download the full report from the conference here.


The GA3 conference hosted 116 attendees, representing 48 tribal nations, including: 11 tribal college students, 21 undergraduate students pursuing Earth and environmental science degrees at 4-year universities, 27 graduate students, 10 tribal college faculty members and 12 faculty members from 4-year universities. Both the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Forestry sent representatives, as did various organizations such as Inter-tribal Youth, Wisdom of the Elders, Water Education Network and CUHASI. Twenty cultural experts, including the Tlingit dance group Náawk, shared cultural dances, stories, songs, and knowledge, as well as lent their perspective to all discussions and workshops which took place during the conference. The conference attracted a wide age-range of participants from a six-year old dancer to a 77 year old elder, with five elders and five high school students participating in the conference and adding to the diversity of perspectives.


Participants attended two hands-on workshop sessions selected from an array which included Dr. Matthew Jones demonstrations of ocean circulation, Dr. Wendy F. Smythe discussing blending traditional and modern science, Dr. Amy Myrbo of LacCore explaining how lake sediment cores provide scientific information, doctoral student Darryl Reano using technology to extract information from satellite images, and Robyn Gastineau from Vernier Software and Technology showing participants how instrumentation can be used to monitor resource quality, among others.

In talking-circle sessions, participants explored regional impacts of a changing climate that have been noted on indigenous lands throughout the country.  Natural resource managers from tribal lands discussed some of the particular challenges being faced by indigenous nations, and participants contributed specific local knowledge relevant to their particular home places. Participants were eager to discuss the challenges faced by tribal communities in dealing with changing climates and their impact on Native foods, natural resources and health.

A poster session was held, where a variety of projects from around the country were displayed and discussed. Students of all levels participated, as did center leaders and employees of government agencies. The focus of this session was becoming acquainted with the great work others of like mind are doing throughout the land. Many connections were made and ideas shared in a friendly, non-threatening atmosphere. For some it was the first time presenting their work.

In addition to the workshops, presentations, talking circles, and cultural activities, the group also took an optional field trip to the Bonneville dam and fish hatchery and Multnomah Falls. The field trip provided participants with additional time for networking and reflection before the closing ceremony the evening.

The conference was made possible by support from the National Science Foundations’ Office of Integrative Activities, the NSF Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction, and the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics.




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