Coastal Adaptation Priorities of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe

Authors: Nicole Hutton*, Old Dominion University, Thomas R. Allen, Old Dominion University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Mitigation, Adaptation, Traditional ecological knowledge, Sea level rise
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation Link: Open in New Window
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Land use change since colonial times, recent sprawl, and sea level rise (SLR) have caused extensive changes in the Chesapeake Bay’s tributary streams, such as the Pamunkey River, on which the Pamunkey Indian Reservation is located. This pilot study assesses the human-water relationship of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in a participatory research process. Our objectives are three-fold: i) temporally assess how SLR has and will altered the Pamunkey Indian Tribe’s human-water relationship, ii) spatially reference mitigation and adaption priorities, and iii) identify the role of TEK in flood management. Flooding has altered access to, culturally relevant livelihoods within, and capacity to preserve artifacts on the reservation. Interaction with SLR maps led to the identification of homes and heritage sites along the shorelines and accessible roadways as top priorities, but extended priorities encompass the whole reservation to ensure residential and community access and preserve undiscovered artifacts and graves. Proposed solutions ranged from extending bulkheads and living shorelines to restoring traditional management practices. Additional information and training about flood risk and prevention is of interest to reduce stress and increase planning capacity within the community. Federal technical and financial assistance is necessary to implement mitigation and adaptation activities, as is the support of the tribal council and chief and coordination with private land holders crossing and adjacent to the reservation. Findings may inform resilience building strategies for other coastal tribes and integration of tribal input into planning efforts.

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