Re-Centering Indigenous Knowledge in climate change discourse

Males, Jamie and Hernandez, Jessica and Meisner, Julianne and Jacobs, Lara A. and Rabinowitz, Peter M. (2022) Re-Centering Indigenous Knowledge in climate change discourse. PLOS Climate, 1 (5). e0000032. ISSN 2767-3200

[thumbnail of journal.pclm.0000032.pdf] Text
journal.pclm.0000032.pdf - Published Version

Download (203kB)


Climate change despair is fueled by the apocalyptic and doom narratives that often dominate climate change discourse. These narratives continue to shift our focus to adaptation strategies rather than the mitigation strategies that many Indigenous communities are leading globally within their territories. In this opinion piece, we argue that to truly mitigate climate change, we must center Indigenous Knowledge systems in climate science. To do this, we offer examples of Indigenous-led movements and projects that are informed by Indigenous Knowledge systems. These examples include Indigenous sentinel networks (ISNs) and Indigenous-led resistance movements against extractive energy projects. Both help us recenter mainstream climate change dialogues back to Indigenous communities and their ways of knowing (epistemologies) and shift away from the negative narratives that diminish our hope for the future.

Climate change continues to disproportionately impact Indigenous communities due to their connectedness to their environments and reliance on local ecosystems [1, 2]. Yet, Indigenous Knowledges as solutions are nowhere to be found in climate change discourse. Oftentimes, such discourse only centers on Indigenous peoples’ vulnerabilities, which continues to decenter such peoples’ hopes for the future. To date, climate change impacts have not eliminated the hope that drives many Indigenous communities to thrive and mitigate these impacts to preserve their ancestral lands, heritage, and most importantly, their epistemologies [3]. Unfortunately, the climate debt that Indigenous communities face is rooted in settler colonialism, historic and current land and rights dispossessions, and ongoing forms of genocide [4]. This climate debt, however, has not stopped Indigenous peoples from acting and leading climate change mitigation strategies to protect their local environments. While mainstream climate science continues to dismiss Indigenous Knowledges, Indigenous sentinel networks (ISNs) and resistance movements against extractive energy projects [5] demonstrate why Indigenous epistemologies must be central to efforts that focus on mitigating climate change as opposed to forcing communities to adapt.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: APLOS Library
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2022 07:21
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2022 07:21

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item