Online Program

Impacts of drought and adaptation strategies: Lessons from the Hopi Tribe

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Elizabeth Rhoades, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Kykotsmovi, AZ
Clayton Honyumptewa, Hopi Department of Natural Resources, Kykotsmovi
Katherine Clegg Smith, PhD, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
The Southwestern United States is experiencing a prolonged drought, and projections indicate that the severity of this drought will worsen in the upcoming decades. Native communities in the region are particularly hard-hit by drought, as their cultural practices, livelihoods, and traditional food sources are tied to the land. However, the same factors that contribute to the disparate impacts on Native communities are also the reason why those same communities are often more aware of changes in the environment than those living in urban environments. The Hopi Tribe has lived in what is now Arizona for thousands of years, practicing dry farming of corn. In partnership with the Tribe, this research sought to describe the Hopi people's observations of drought, to describe the impacts of drought on Hopi Tribal members, to understand how Tribal members currently cope with drought, and to document ideas for long-term adaptation strategies to lessen the negative impacts of drought. This study is the first to explore perceptions of drought and climate-related public health impacts among American Indian populations in the Southwest, and speaks to calls from federal and tribal organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Congress of American Indians for more research on the topic of tribes, drought, and changing climate. Over a period of 9 weeks, 35 in-depth interviews were conducted with Hopi elders, government employees, farmers, ranchers and others on the topic of drought. Interviews were supplemented with observations of community meetings and collection of relevant documents and monitoring data. Through a process of Framework Analysis, key themes regarding climate observations, impacts, and adaptation strategies were identified while maintaining the essential cohesiveness of each unique interview. Results regarding the economic, cultural and health impacts of drought are provided, as well as a discussion of possible adaptation strategies.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Explain factors contributing to disparate impacts of climate change on Native communities. Discuss the role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in climate monitoring. Assess potential adaptation strategies to lessen the negative impacts of climate change.

Keyword(s): American Indians, Climate Change

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. My research interests are climate impacts and adaptation strategies, particularly from a health perspective. This research represents my dissertation work; I designed the research, conducted the interviews and observations, collected documents, and analyzed the data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.