Abstract: WITHDRAWN: Connection to Place and Likelihood of Adapting to Global Environmental Changes Among an Indigenous Community (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

WITHDRAWN: Connection to Place and Likelihood of Adapting to Global Environmental Changes Among an Indigenous Community

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Liberty Ballroom N, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Shanondora Billiot, PhD, Assistant Professor, Arizona State University, Phoenix, IL
Michael Braun, PhD, Research Specialist, Children and Family Research Center, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, IL
Riley Ubben, BA, Master's Student, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Urbana, IL
Lara Law, LMSW, PhD Research Assistant, Arizona State University, School of Social Work, Phoenix, AZ
Bala Balachandran, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Urbana, IL
Background Purpose: Environmental changes are human-induced events like climate change, repeated or high magnitude disasters, and technological disasters, which have global implications for all life on earth and are projected to have the greatest impact on marginalized peoples. Emerging empirical evidence suggests that global environmental changes pose the latest threat to Indigenous Peoples’ well-being and mental health. Community-based adaptation, is focused on practical application of adaptation activities. It uses participatory methods to empower community members to develop adaptation priorities and activities. The aim is to document perceptual experiences of climate change and empower communities to develop or implement adaptations at the local level (Smit & Wandel 2006, Boyle & Dowlatabadi 2011). This study contemplates the likelihood of individual-level adaptation activities within an Indigenous community located on physically vulnerable lands who have experienced environmental displacement.

Methods: This community-engaged study uses interviewer-administered surveys (n=160) (mean age = 55.1, SD = 13.3; 42.5% female) through non-probability sampling strategies. All participants were enrolled tribal citizens and earned income from subsistence activities. Participants answered questions on their observations and experiences of environmental changes in their parish (county) and estimated how this exposure threatened their livelihood as well as their likelihood of completing adaptation activities. All data was loaded, cleaned, and analyzed using R version 3.6.1 (R Core Team, 2019; RStudio Team, 2019). Nested regression models were used to assess predictors of adaptation activities, and the models are compared using a likelihood ratio test. The PI worked with a community advisory council to guide culturally relevant research procedures.

Results: Nested regression models were used to predict adaptation activities. For comparison purposes, a null model was run first. Second, a model containing demographic variables (age, sex, and education) was run. No predictor was significant, nor was the model, f (3, 152) < 1, p = 0.79. Last, the model was run again with additional predictors connection to place, environmental concerns, job concerns, discrimination, and ethnic identity. This model was significant, f (8, 147) = 8.54, p < .001. Having a connection to place was significantly associated with greater adaptation activities, b = 0.52, SE = 0.22, t = 2.33, p = 0.02. Feeling greater concern about the environment was also associated with greater adaptation activities, b = 0.74, SE = 0.15, t = 5.05, p < .001. Last, having experienced discrimination was associated with greater adaptation activities, b = 0.66, SE = 0.24, t = 2.76, p = 0.01, adjusted r2 = 0.28. No other predictor was significant. The model explained significantly more variance than the demographics model, x2 (5) = 119.7, p < .001.

Conclusion: Although perceptions of discriminatory policies may have motivated participation in adaptation activities, there was also expressed cultural buffers such as connection to land and strong Indigenous identity. Community-based adaptation policies on Indigenous lands can be seen as acts of resistance when they consider cultural interactions with the environment, and traditional ecological knowledge. Future research could explore resilience implications of community-based adaptation activities.