Supported Projects

Rising Voices supports many innovative projects striving to advance an understanding of Earth sciences and offering action plans for community needs and sustainability.

2021 Seed Funding for Centering Justice in Climate Research and Action

Congratulations to the following four teams that received seed funding to catalyze their projects and advance the ethos of the Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences. All entries for this funding opportunity represented important and cutting edge work that advances Indigenous science and action in the Earth sciences.


Solar Bear: Development of a K-12 Sustainable Energy Education Model in Support of Tribal Energy Sovereignty

Abstract: It is a critical time in the climate crisis for First Nations to lead the way towards a just energy and climate future, though building solar projects and workforces centered around renewable energy and native knowledge. This project will build support for the development of an Environmental Justice and Sustainable Energy Education Model, integrating STEM learning with traditional ways of knowing throughout the K-12 program, with a focus on sustainable, renewable energy, through the Solar Bear Program, a Native Sun education initiative. This educational model seeks to prepare young people with knowledge of language and culture relating to TEK, as well as the skills to understand and apply Earth Science concepts, and to empower them with the capacity and tools to work on critical energy infrastructure issues related to climate change, environmental justice, and tribal energy sovereignty. Through storytelling, classroom and outdoor activities, connections with tribal and western scientists, and learning from tribal educators, the program will support young tribal members in building knowledge and community resilience at the intersection of a health, climate, justice and renewable energy. The program will create pathways to the solar industry, and to research/education careers that support community-based action on tribal energy sovereignty.

Team: Robert Blake (Native Sun Community Power Development), the Science Museum of Minnesota, Red Lake Public Schools, Waasabiik Ojibemotaadiwin Immersion Charter School, Climate Generation, Red Lake Department of Natural Resources


qóˀc waqíitpa (in the future)

Abstract: Our Nimiipuu knowledge is founded in values of respect, reciprocity, responsibility, and relationships which are reflected in waste reduction and sustainable actions. qóˀc waqíitpa (in the future) is a Nimiipuun'eewit initiative for waste reduction at community gatherings (i.e. longhouse, funeral services, memorials, giveaways, ceremonies, celebrations). Gatherings are at the foundation of our culture, community, and homelands. It is vital in sustaining our teachings, developing our own lived experiences, and perpetuating our ancestral connection to place. The qóˀc waqíitpa initiative includes a waste audit, reduction design, and implementation for community gatherings of varying number of people. Our Nimiipuu practices have been adaptive, yet as knowledge of sustainable practices are established we can and will take action to adapt practices that are aligned with our cultural values and traditional practices. By using modern best practices suggested by science organizations and experts, our community can elevate our role in upholding our responsibility to our homelands and as a vital component of our ecosystem.

Team: Ciarra Greene, (Nimiipu/Nez Perce); Maggie Picard (Saddle Lake Cree); Northwest Indian College scholar (TBD)


Applying Coproduced Flood Risk Science for Adaptation Action in Maloelap Atoll

Abstract: This project will support the establishment of the 0.5 km squared conservation area and an piloting of the indigenous and western science-based flood risk reduction measure along the most vulnerable coastlines of Kaben Island in Maloelap Atoll. The pilot beach-toe and vegetated fencing will extend an area of no less than 50 meters of strong wave-energy coastline on the eastern end of Kaben Island (sometimes spelled Kaven). It will be constructed of stainless steel rope pinned to 2' wide x 2' long x 4" height concrete slabs fabricated by the community. The concrete slabs (i.e. beach toes) will be 4' to 6' underground to decrease lateral mobility. Stainless steel rope will be connected to the beach toes and extend vertically above ground by approximately 4 feet above ground. The various stainless steel ropes will be lashed with nylon netting and strung together, forming a porous barrier between the open ocean and the vulnerable coastline. Community members will gather and deposit fallen coconut palm leaves and other vegetation on the interior of the netted fencing, and over time the natural wave action and tidal flows will carry sediment that will "cement" the vegetation in place. The pilot design is intended as a cost-effective means to climate action among a resource-poor rural atoll community. Lessons learned to guide further coastal conservation and protection plans as part of the Maloelap Resource Management Plan which was developed using the 8-step Reimaanlok Conservation Area Management Planning Framework that helps atoll communities in the Marshall Islands think globally and act locally. The Resource Management Plan and is now seeking co-funding support.

Team: Community leaders - Paramount Chief Boklon Zachious, Ailuk/Aur/Maloelap/Utrik/Wotje Atolls; Chieftess Kiorina Capelle, Maloelap Atoll; Mayor William Saito, Maloelap Atoll Local Government; Councilman Mark Stege, Maloelap Atoll Local Government (project manager); Technical advisors - Bobby Muller, Pacific International Inc. (sea fence design advisor); Dolores deBrum-Kattil, Marshall Islands Conservation Society (conservation site advisor); Amber Moulton and Salote Soqo, Unitarian Universalist Services Committee


Building a New Generation of Water Protectors in Barbuda, West Indies

Abstract: Barbuda is a small, semi-arid island in the Caribbean that is inhabited by descendants of formerly enslaved people who have become intrinsic to the island ecosystem. Barbudans have had communal “ownership” of the land and have had sustainable and resilient ways of life. In 2017, the island was struck by Hurricane Irma; this was followed by privatization of land and a transformation of the landscape into a Disney-like tourist attraction for the rich. Hunting grounds and agricultural areas have been destroyed, which will impact their food and water systems. In this project we will reach out to community members to collect stories about the historic wells and other relevant knowledge related to water and compile these in a story map that includes Earth science data that the project team has been collecting since 2012. We will talk to many Barbudans, particularly the elders, to document the knowledge in order to capture traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) before it is lost, provide a more complete picture of the island water system, and extend and strengthen community-project team relationships. This would provide baseline data to document the impacts of landscape transformation that is happening, as well as finding ways to increase community resilience.

Team: Rebecca Boger, Barbuda Research Complex and Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY); Sophia Perdikaris, Barbuda Research Complex and University of Nebraska, Lincoln; Shaville Charles, Barbuda; Dwight Finch, Barbuda Research Complex

2020 Seed Funding for Catalyzing Research and Action

Congratulations to the following three teams which received seed funding to catalyze their projects and advance the ethos of the Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences. All entries for this funding opportunity represented important and cutting edge work that advances Indigenous science and action in the Earth sciences.


EXpanding adaPtivE Capacity Towards (EXPECT) Climate Change in Las Cabachuelas, Project Borinquen

Abstract: EXPECT project seeks to build community resilience and adaptive capacity in Las Cabachuelas Reserve and nearby areas and their residents in Borinquen (Puerto Rico). It aims to do so by focusing on climate change (e.g., flooding and landslide) and co-designing community-based hazards preparedness maps. Efforts will be in collaboration with Las Cabachuelas Project, a community-based cooperative, that promotes sustainable eco-tourism, research, and education about caves ecosystems. We seek to co-construct a map informed by traditional knowledge to strengthen place-attachment and develop place-feelings towards caves; this includes the implementation of virtual and field-based geospatial trainings and community “walkabouts,” focusing in culturally and ecologically significant places imbued with storytelling.

Team: Ángel A. Garcia Jr., Ph.D. (PI; James Madison University), Aixa Alemán-Diaz, Ph.D. (Co-PI; Independent Scholar), José Santos-Valderrama, MTS (Las Cabachuelas Cooperative and Community Member), Myriam Rivera-Vázquez (Las Cabachuelas Cooperative), Joan M. Cruz-Santiago (Las Cabachuelas Cooperative and Community Member), Ángel A. Acosta-Colón (University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo)


Enabling Tribal Data Sovereignty: Supporting Great Plains and Northern Rockies Tribes Data Needs

Abstract: Tribal nations require sound information for governance, ensuring the health and welfare of their citizens, and planning. Tribes face particular challenges in accessing, interpreting, utilizing, managing, and protecting data. Limited resources, fragmented / stovepiped federal programs supporting narrowly defined activities, lack of data sovereignty policies, and similar obstacles frustrate action. Ensuring true tribal sovereignty requires access to and the resources needed to effectively use data and information. This project will further the establishment of a tribally-governed not-for-profit entity that offers human, technical, and financial resources to tribes and tribal programs for specific health, environmental, or socioeconomic data related problems in the Great Plains and Northern Rockies region. Our goal is to increase tribes’ ability to access, interpret and apply data for governance, planning, and for improving economic opportunity and tribal sustainability. Creation of a regional entity with technical skills, orientation to tribal needs / capacities, and adequate resources to support training and data sovereignty issues would enable regional tribal governments to serve their citizens more effectively, support planning, and improve daily life for thousands of Native Americans.

Team: James Rattling Leaf (PI, Rattling Leaf Consulting; USGS North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center), Robin O’Malley (formerly with USGS North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center; Robin O’Malley LLC), Chad McNutt (formerly with NOAA/National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS); co-founder Livestock Wx)


Blues to Bitterroots Coalition - Camas to Condors Project: Seasonal Round Trail Project – a Multicultural Collaboration for Climate Resilience

Abstract: The objective of this project is to develop a plan and vision for the Tribe and regional collaborators to work on landscape level planning efforts that focus on connectivity for wildlife, and on habitats that support traditionally harvested plant foods. This planning effort is a first step towards garnering support and obtaining adequate funding for meaningful restoration and mitigation efforts as part of the wildlife and gathering part of the adaptation plan.

To achieve this, we are working on building capacity to maintain a coalition of partners with the necessary skills, resources, and willingness to focus efforts on community resilience, along with culturally-centered and traditional knowledge informed restoration. The vision of the initial partners includes whole-landscape function (including hydrology and ecological connectivity), with initial efforts focused on critical linkages. These include the Nez Perce Precious Lands and its watershed, and keystone symbolic species such as camas, Coho salmon, and California condor.

The first project is a Seasonal Round Trail Project to help monitor changes to traditional foods, draw awareness to cultural survival, native plants, wildlife, and ecological integrity. Education, Cross-sectoral, cross-cultural collaboration, research, and community based planning are all critical to the success of this project.

Team: Tiyana Casey (PI, Independent Contractor), Stefanie Krantz (Nez Perce Tribe, Water Resources), Angela Sondenaa (Nez Perce Tribe, Department of Wildlife), Thomas Tall Bull (Nez Perce Tribe, Water Resources) AJ Whiteplume (Nez Perce Tribe, Water Resources) Josiah Pinkham (Nez Perce Tribe, Cultural Resources), Nakia Williamson (Nez Perce Tribe, Cultural Resources), Christina De Villier (Greater Hells Canyon Council), Jessie Grossman (Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative), David Mildrexler (Eastern Oregon Legacy Lands & Nez Perce Tribe)