University of Arizona Associate Professor & Extension Specialist Karletta Chief is the new Director of the Native Nations Climate Adaptation Program (NNCAP). This program, hosted within the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, was established through a partnership between the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice, the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, and the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions. The purpose of NNCAP is to support on-the-ground climate adaptation efforts, working collaboratively with tribes in the Southwestern US.
Dr. Chief brings a wealth of experience to this position. She has a PhD from UA in Hydrology and Water Resources, and a BS and MS from Stanford University in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Chief research focuses on how indigenous communities will be affected by climate change. Her primary tribal climate change projects are with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (link) and the Navajo Nation. Dr. Chief is a member of a national network of indigenous and non-indigenous scientists focusing on climate change impacts to indigenous peoples. Dr. Chief is part of the Native Waters on Arid Lands Project, a five-year (2015-2020) project that partners researchers and extension experts with tribal communities in the Great Basin and American Southwest to collaboratively understand the impacts of climate change, and to evaluate adaptation options for sustaining water resources and agriculture (nativewaters-aridlands.com).
Dr. Chief co-authored several publications in the Special Issue of Climatic Change entitled “Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples in the United States: Impacts, Experiences, and Actions” and Forest Conservation in the Anthroprocene. Dr. Chief is a member of the Indigenous People Climate Change Working Group, Rising Voices, and Climate and Traditional Knowledges Working Group with a focus on climate impacts to tribal waters. She co-authored a Tribes Chapter in the Southwest Climate Assessment Report (swcarr.arizona.edu) in 2013 and provisional guidelines for considering traditional knowledges in climate change initiatives (climatetkw.wordpress.com) in 2014. Dr. Chief is also the lead PI for a new NSF training track at the UA called Indigenous Food, Energy, Water Security and Sovereignty. In January 2019, she received a grant from UA Cooperative Extension to work on Climate Change Adaptation on the Navajo Nation.
Dr. Chief has received a number of awards, including the 2010 “Most Promising Engineer/Scientist of the Year” award from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and 2015 Native American 40 Under 40 Award. NNCAP has completed a number of projects since its inception, including an assessment of tribal needs for support relative to adaptation and mitigation efforts; a national Tribal Leaders’ Summit on Climate Adaptation; and development of climate profiles and adaptation planning support for several tribes in the Southwest.