Blackfeet Nation Addresses Climate Change

Grinnell Glacier from trail 1900. Same view 2008.
This is the Grinnell Glacier on the boundary of the Blackfeet Nation lands in 1900 and in 2008. The glacier has been melting as the temperatures have increased in the last 100 years.

In the creeks and streams of Northwest Montana, you might notice small dams. They are made from materials like willow branches, mud, and grass. They look like beaver dams. They are actually made by people. The Blackfoot Nation began building these beaver dams to stop the flooding. Flooding has happened more often. Warmer temperatures are causing snow to melt quickly.

These beaver dams are part of a larger plan. It is called the Blackfeet Climate Change Adaption Plan. For hundreds of years the Blackfeet Nation of Northwest Montana has adapted to their land. Now temperatures across the globe are warming. Their land is changing faster than it has ever changed before.

The plan looks at how warming temperatures will affect different parts of their life. They will study the fish in their water. They will study the plants that grow on their land. They will even study air they breathe. By following the plan, they will make changes to adapt to a changing world. The plan even calls for them to introduce beavers onto their land to build dams for them.

What Do You Think? Do you think it’s important for communities to adapt to changing climate?

Photo Credit: (l)F.E. Matthes, Glacier NP./USGS, (r)Lisa McKeon/USGS