From day one, the South Central CASC has made it a priority to focus on working with tribes. The South Central region has 68 tribes with diverse histories, cultures and governmental structures. Many of these tribes have experienced historical climate change and adapted over time since their origins; other tribes were relocated from their homelands to the region and adapted to new landscapes over time. This region also has significant acreage owned by private landowners; tribal citizens and tribal governments are major landowners in the region. Lastly, tribes have a significant role in water management in the region due to tribal treaty water rights.
Since the South Central CASC made it a priority to include tribes as partners from its inception, the Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma became consortium members. Under this arrangement, the South Central CASC employs a full-time Chickasaw Nation Sustainability Scientist and University of Oklahoma Assistant Sustainability Scientist, both located at the main office in Norman, OK. These scientists liaise between tribes and researchers, develop partnerships for climate science projects, build tribal manager capacity, and conduct tribal youth programs.
South Central CASC Awarded Environmental Achievement Award
In 2015, the South Central CSC (now CASC) received the Environmental Achievement Award from the Department of Interior for “Climate Science & Partnerships: Increasing the Tribal Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation”.
Native Student Workforce Development at the South Central CASC
Since 2012, we have hosted, mentored, and had over 40 native students work for us. The students are funded by various programs such as REUs, BIA Pathways, grants, and the Chickasaw Nation. Students are from diverse disciplines including environmental, forensic science, meteorology, journalism, political science, law school, etc. Student responsibilities include assisting the tribal liaisons and completing research projects. Many of our students also present their research at tribal conferences. In addition to mentoring native students, we are greatly involved with native youth outreach.