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Tribal Communities Topics

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Tribal Nations

There are 566 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes in the United States. Each tribe is distinct by its history, language, culture and traditions. Tribal Nations are sovereign entities with the inherent right to self governance and self determination.

The United States government and Tribal Nations share a unique government to government relationship. State, local and tribal governments share common interests and responsibilities in resource management, services, environmental and economic sectors. Partnering on economic and environmental projects has the potential to increase economic growth, environmental sustainability, and improved health for all citizens through continued communication and collaboration.

For more information on Tribal Communities please visit the following: EPA American Indian Tribal Portal National Congress of the American Indians and EPA American Indian Tribal Portal

Impacts and Benefits

Tribal communities face regionally diverse impacts of climate change that have the potential to affect their cultures and economies. Implementing climate change mitigation and energy management projects may enhance tribal efforts to improve air quality, promote public health and reduce energy costs that may increase opportunities in economic and workforce development.

Climate Action Areas

Tribal communities can develop climate change mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency, residential energy efficiency, utility programs, land use planning, renewable energy, transportation, water/wastewater, and waste and materials management. Tribal communities can adapt climate and energy information and tools to address specific tribal community needs, policies, and programs.

Climate Action Planning

Communities seeking to develop climate and energy mitigation projects to reduce greenhouse emissions can access information and planning tools on Northern Arizona University's Climate Change and Tribes website section on Mitigation. EPA's Local Climate and Energy Program resources can be adapted to fit tribal communities' project planning needs and include:


Tribal communities and state and local governments can collaborate on developing mutually beneficial relationships for climate and energy projects. Tribal communities can contribute perspectives in discussions at the state, local, and national levels that will increase the possibility of cohesive regional solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Tribal communities may also seek to partner with tribal national and regional organizations and environmental organizations (PDF) (56 pp, 268K, About PDF) for funding and project development opportunities.


Tribal nations may require funding to plan and implement climate and energy projects. Communities can research opportunities for funding from state and local governments, tribal regional and national organizations, and federal entities.

Tribal Examples

In this archived webcast, learn how Gila River Indian Community and Choctaw Nation are reducing greenhouse gas emissions through recycling and energy efficiency audits, and learn how the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin is integrating climate change considerations into its overall decision-making and in its water management programs. Two of these tribes have implemented a variety of clean energy projects under EPA's Climate Showcase Communities program: Gila River has completed a community-wide greenhouse gas inventory and developed programs for curbside recycling, energy-efficient lighting, and green buildings; Choctaw Nation is implementing a project to improve energy efficiency throughout its hospital system. This December 11, 2012 webcast also provides information about resources and funding ideas to help tribal governments design and implement climate change programs.

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