Background: There is increasing recognition of the significance of traditional knowledges (TKs) in relation to climate change. And yet there are potential risks to indigenous peoples in sharing TKs in federal and other non-indigenous climate change initiatives. These guidelines are intended to examine the significance of TKs in relation to climate change and the potential risks to indigenous peoples in the U.S. for sharing TKs in federal and other non-indigenous climate change initiatives.

Why Traditional Knowledges? Although it is common to refer to “traditional knowledge(s)” as individual pieces of information, this term also refers to traditional “knowledge systems” that are deeply embedded in indigenous ways of life. These guidelines use the phrase “traditional knowledges” deliberately in plural form because knowledges are emergent from the symbiotic relationship of indigenous peoples and places – a nature-culture nexus. Tribes and indigenous peoples use “knowledges” to emphasize that there are diverse forms of traditional knowledge and knowledge systems that must be recognized as unique to each tribe and knowledge holder. These guidelines should be used to inform the development of specific protocols in direct and close consultation with indigenous peoples.

Purpose of the Guidelines: These guidelines are intended to meet multiple goals. First and foremost, these guidelines are intended to be provisional. They are intended to increase understanding of the role of and protections for TKs in climate initiatives, provide provisional guidance to those engaging in efforts that encompass TKs and increase mutually beneficial and ethical interactions between tribes and non-tribal partners

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