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Tribal expert discusses climate change

Tribal expert discusses climate change

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A packed house at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center heard about sustainability and climate change from the tribal perspective at Thursday’s Corvallis Sustainability Coalition Fair and Town Hall.

More than 400 people were on hand to hear Samantha Chisholm Hatfield speak on traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). Hatfield, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, has worked with the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute and the Northwest Climate Science Center.

“Native peoples are so connected to the land,” said Hatfield, who added that climate change “happens more drastically and at a much faster pace” on tribal lands.

“The land is integral to our identity. There is no separation.”

Hatfield showed slides of tribal involvement in civil disobedience at the Dakota Access pipeline project, which has been targeted by protesters for its impact on tribal lands and watersheds.

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“The Standing Rock struggle shows how our love of place extends beyond our region,” Hatfield said. “It also shows how integral the land and water are to us. Water is very sacred.”

Hatfield also warned about similar issues that might arise in Oregon with the proposed Jordan Cove liquid natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay — and the pipeline that might serve it.

The town hall portion of the event also featured interactive table discussions on the themes of collaboration and knowing your community. Coalition action team leaders also narrated the annual “community scrapbook” of 2016 accomplishments. The presentation has grown to such an extent that it is now presented in two parts.

The evening opened with the fair, which filled the foyer and adjacent rooms and hallways at the Alumni Center with booths and tables featuring information from the coalition's 12 action teams and partner organizations. Space was at a premium as the large crowd bustled through the booths.

Included for the first time were “breakout sessions,” one on community solar projects and the second on community land trusts for agriculture.

The fair also offered a kids activity room, local music and "local 6" food from a half-dozen counties: Benton, Linn, Lane, Polk, Lincoln and Marion.

Contact reporter James Day at or 541-758-9542. Follow at or


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