Changes in our story: Traditional and Western discussions of change and how it affects subsistence gathering for the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe
According to the history of the S’Klallam people, educating youth and passing along knowledge of traditional lifeways and cultural practices is one of many critical roles their Tribal elders provide for future generations. Elders of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe were asked to tell their stories regarding traditional subsistence gathering practices and locations and how they compare today within their Usual and Accustomed gathering locations. Conversations focused not only on climactic changes, but also included the human role in this changing story. Resilience is a word that helps us relate to the management of resources, its needs, and issues regarding all change within subsistence locations. It is this change that best describes how we are all related to the land and its gifts. This changing story relates to what has been lost, what is available today, and how change will look and feel for future generations. The facts and findings of this changing story will help structure the future practices of subsistence gathering, possibly through policy change. The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe partnered with the Oregon State University to understand what is lost, what is being lost, and how to create a resilient plan to proactively prepare for the future.
Historical landscape level changes included spatial analysis and examined historical changes in landscape within the Usual and Accustomed subsistence gathering locations. Comparisons between 1975 and 2010 show areas of increasing and decreasing vegetation that can include loss of traditional plants and increase in invasive species. An estimated ~3% loss of estuarine wetlands is concerning as these areas include a significant number of traditional plants species. The Oregon Climate Change Research Center extended the more general scenarios of (Dalton et al 2013) to the Olympic Kitsap Peninsulas for two intervals: 2049-2069 and 2070-2099. The late 21st century climate scenarios estimate ~5-9°F increase in summer temp. with ~4-8°F increases in other seasons. Precipitation scenarios show ~15-20% decrease in summer and 8-12% increase in fall and winter, however not inclusively as snow pack. These scenarios reflect elder concerns and observations. Increasing sea level rise in this region in best median estimate is approx. 2 feet. Current distribution of plants of key Cultural Concern is using semi-quantitative survey techniques and confirm elders concerns in this area that these plants seem to be harder to find than historically. Research is still actively being performed and analysis is currently incomplete due to future research.