Social Studies

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Native Student Filmmakers Focus on Climate Change

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This video segment features Native student filmmakers as well as Elders talking about climate change. It begins with the student filmmakers explaining the meaning behind the film project, Where Words Touch the Earth, and why their involvement matters. Native Elders then share some of their observations of how climate has changed and the sense of responsibility Native people share not to stand idly by in the face of change. The video segment was adapted from a student video produced at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

Adopting Sustainable Food Practices

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This video segment adapted from United Tribes Technical College looks at how the traditional subsistence practices of indigenous people were once sustainable, unlike today's lifestyles. Most foods are now produced and transported using methods that can damage the environment and contribute to climate change.

Healing Mother Earth for Future Generations

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Listen as Native Americans share their concerns about climate change, in this video segment adapted from United Tribes Technical College. See photographs from the past and hear one woman describe how tribal people were the first environmentalists. In addition, learn how people are noticing that they are losing sacred plants and are concerned for the future. Finally, hear about the importance of education to help future generations live in harmony with Mother Earth.

Why Does Climate Change Matter?

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In this video segment adapted from United Tribes Technical College, hear young Native Americans talk about climate change. Listen as they respond to the question, "Why does climate change matter?" They share their opinions about the importance of climate; their thoughts on how climate change is affecting weather, oceans, and ice; and their fears about the impacts for future generations.

Navajo Elders' Observations on Climate Change

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In this video segment adapted from Navajo Technical College, two Navajo Elders speak about climate change and the differences in the environment that they have observed. They have noticed changes in the rainy season, including more violent storms, and changes in the characteristics of both wind and snow. They describe the disappearance of some plants during their lifetime and express concern about how changes in climate are negatively affecting people and animals.

Observing Changes in Snowfall

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In this video segment adapted from the College of Menominee Nation, Menominee language instructor John Teller describes the implications of climate change on the Menominee Indian Tribe, whose reservation is located in northeast Wisconsin. Teller has observed changing conditions, including snowfall that arrives later in the year. He describes how the snow and cold weather are connected both to the customs and the well-being of the Menominee Nation. Because of this, he says, the tribe must do something to protect the Earth.

Witnessing Environmental Changes

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This video segment examines the issue of climate change from the perspective of Native Americans. Elders describe the changes they have observed in their surroundings, especially those related to water, and the effects they are having on their way of life. Dr. Daniel Wildcat explains that because Native people are so deeply connected to the land, non-Native people should consult with Native people about what we are experiencing. The video segment was adapted from a student video produced at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

20-Year Map of Global Rainfall

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The distribution of rainfall on Earth follows clear patterns that can be traced to factors that influence cloud formation, such as the amount of solar heating, surface temperatures, topography, and proximity to moisture. In this visualization from NASA, observe the monthly distribution of global rainfall from January 1979 to January 2001, as illustrated by data gathered with a combination of remote-sensing and ground-based methods.

Overstepping Mother Earth's Boundaries

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In this video segment, learn about the relationship between humans and nature. Listen to a tribal Elder make the connection between the Mythic Trickster, a troublemaker whose plans consistently backfire in story after story, and modern humanity, which has disturbed natural systems with unanticipated consequences. In addition, hear an Elder’s observation that modern humanity no longer listens to nature and that, to help save ourselves, we need to accept that nature has knowledge to share. The video segment was adapted from a student video produced at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

The Seasons Are Moving

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Explore some of the effects of changing seasonal cycles on the Menominee Indian Tribe, whose reservation is located in northeast Wisconsin, in this video segment adapted from the College of Menominee Nation. Tribal member Ben Grignon describes the impact on maple sugar–making activities. Menominee educator Dr. Verna Flower shares her observations of flowering plants blossoming earlier. And tribal member Melissa Cook, concerned with the pace of climate change, urges people take responsibility and work together to preserve the world.