Climate Conversations, Me-Wuk Tribe

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landscape me-wuk

Water sustainability is a core mission of the Tuolumne Me-Wuk Tribe; one that is ever more critical due to drought and climate change.

By Elissa Lynn

As the Tribal Water Summit approaches, DWR is working to complete the video production on insightful climate change stories from four native California tribes. Today, we’ll share a short blog on the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians.

Intergenerational interviews provided a great impression of what this area was like in the historic past, and the challenges the Me-Wuk Indians face in a changing climate. The beautiful North Fork of the Tuolumne River isn’t flowing as strongly as in decades past. Several years of drought have led to higher wildfire risk, an infestation of the bark beetle, which the trees are less able to fend off during dry conditions, and a more robust emergency planning process for the tribal council.

Gathering the black-oak acorns would be time consuming to carry out the same way nowadays, but trips are still made to do so, although greater travel distance is often needed. Gathering and hunting give the younger generations a connection to their ancestors.

Self-reliance is mentioned in the Tribe’s Vision Statement, so preparing for water sustainability is a core mission. Whether it’s testing for water quality, securing water infrastructure, or preparing for drought, the Tribe considers water management very important. They also promote learning the ways the Tribe has survived both manmade and natural disasters in the past and maintaining cultural practices as ways to prepare for the future.