The following information was adapted from the Principles for the Conduct of Research in the Arctic and the Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives (

The Tribal Resilience Action Database team recognizes the ethical and moral responsibility that comes with compiling and amplifying Knowledges from already published climate adaptation plans across the U.S. The team recognizes and acknowledges the role and interaction of multiple knowledge systems in climate change research, vulnerability assessment, and the climate adaptation process. We also recognize that each Tribal Nation, organization, and Tribal community has its own laws that guide and structure how different facets of knowledge are treated by Tribal and non-Tribal entities and that the sharing of these knowledges is governed by principles and values of an Indigenous community, which defines an equitable and productive relationship with research and project partners. Key issues include the collective custodianship of knowledge, custodianship by knowledge holders, and the secret, sacred, cultural, and individual privacy potentially associated with these knowledges. Overall, the Resilience Action Database aims to follow two key principles through the potential integration and use of the Knowledge and data created and owned by Tribes: 1) Free, Prior, and Informed Consent; and 2) Cause No Harm. 

  • Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a fundamental right of Indigenous peoples when sharing information or negotiating or entering into agreements with governments, businesses, and others. FPIC means that the project and project team ensure procedural and substantive fairness in negotiations, Indigenous peoples will be involved from the beginning of the process, and that processes for obtaining consent affirm the right of Indigenous peoples to decline to engage or participate in the Database at any time, now and/or in the future. 
  • Cause No Harm means that the project team will define the roles and responsibilities of all partners clearly and carefully, define what information will be shared, establish use, ownership and means to interpret or share information at the outset of the project, and honor the virtues of Respect, Trust, Equity, and Empowerment. 

Engagement –

With the guidance of the National Tribal Advisory Group, the Core Team developed an outreach and engagement strategy with the goal of connecting with each and every Tribe or Alaska Native Community whose adaptation or resilience plan is included in the database. While every plan that is included was already posted on a public website, this engagement gave Tribes an opportunity to “opt-out” of having the information from the plan included in the database.  This turned out to be no small undertaking.  The outreach and engagement process included:

  • Identifying initial contact information for all of the 68 Tribes who had published and publicly accessible climate adaptation, resilience, or managed retreat plans at the time of the project.
  • Sending a formal letter from USRT to each of the Tribes informing them of the project in February of 2023. The letter articulated data use and protection protocol, providing contact information, and letting them know that they could withdraw their plan from the database at any time.
  • A set of three informal drop-in Webinars in March 2023 for Tribes to learn more about the project, ask questions, and discuss concerns.
  • Follow-up email and up to two follow-up phone calls in the spring of 2023.
  • Additional contact research for Tribes that had not yet responded and up to two additional emails and phone calls to those Tribes in the summer of 2023.
  • Selected direct contact attempts in the Fall of 2023 and Winter of 2024 to Tribes, which had not yet responded.
  • Final email with a formal letter included thanking Tribes for their participation in the project, sharing the release of the web portal, and providing an additional reminder that Tribes can “opt-out”) and data can be removed from the database at any time.

At the time of the first release of the data portal, 44 Tribes had officially responded and provided permission to incorporate the resilience actions from their plans into the database. 21 Tribes have yet to respond to any of the outreach materials, and one Tribe opted out of participating in sharing resilience actions, citing the age of their plan and the forthcoming release of a new plan.

Materials, Resources, and Data Use Plan

In support of this outreach and engagement and in an effort to truly support Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of the inclusion of the resilience actions in the database, the Core Team prepared a variety of materials, such as those listed above.  In addition, the Core Team created a detailed summary of intended approach for data integration,  permissions, and use.  These materials are provided here.