Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forestry and Natural Resources

First Advisor

Linda S. Prokopy

Committee Member 1

Laura Zanotti

Committee Member 2

Daniel Wildcat


Very little literature exists which details how climate change impacts Indian Country. This study first investigates how US newspaper stories published from 1991 to 2011 present American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) perceptions, and observations, of environmental changes resulting from climatic change. Several specific risk, impacts, and vulnerabilities were documented, and observations of climate change from AI/AN perceptions were analyzed for content to identify three frames of perspective: pan-Indian, tribally-specific, and individual perceptions. By law, ethical considerations are paramount when dealing with research in Native American tribes and communities. While each nation is supposed to review research to assess the risk and beneficence of research, in practice several tribes have neither a standing research ethics committee nor institutional review board. This research next details the methodology of contact, communication, and consideration when working with tribal nations in the US. This research further identifies the challenge of bridging information from Indigenous knowledge systems, public media, and western scientific methodologies, while complying with ethical standards, scientific objectivity, and transcultural honor, pride, and respect.