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A groundbreaking digital story collection, “Explore Climate Actions on the CSKT Flathead Reservation,” recently clinched the prestigious Esri Native Nations Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Award in the 2023 ArcGIS StoryMaps Competition.

The collection was created by the Montana Climate Office at the University of Montana and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation. 

This project is a central component of the NIDIS-funded Native Drought Resilience Project, a collaborative effort between CSKT, Salish Kootenai College, the Montana Climate Office, and the Wilderness Society. The effort was led by Kyle Bocinsky, Montana Climate Office director of climate extension.

“We are honored to receive the Esri Native Nations TEK Award,” Bocinsky said. “This recognition is a testament to CSKT’s commitment to leveraging technology to convey the profound impacts of climate change on the reservation and to engage the community in solutions.”

Esri, a global leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence, and mapping, presented the award in recognition of the exceptional efforts made by CSKT to use technology to convey vital information about climate actions on the Flathead Reservation.

Authored by Mike Durglo Jr., the CSKT climate change coordinator, and developed by Annika Mayer, the Native Drought Project StoryMap developer and a Montana Climate Office staff member, the story collection aims to enhance communication about CSKT's climate plan among tribal members.

The web-first format provides an interactive and accessible experience, highlighting the impacts of drought and climate change on various sectors, including forestry, water, wildlife, and fisheries. Each chapter concludes with proposed solutions, transforming a static document into a dynamic resource.

CSKT leaders will present the StoryMap to communities on the Flathead Reservation in an effort to empower tribal members with knowledge and actionable insights to address the challenges posed by climate change.

NIDIS funded the Native Drought Resilience project through the FY 2022 Coping with Drought Competition – Building Tribal Drought Resilience. A portion of the grant was allocated to develop a series of Esri StoryMaps based on the CSKT Climate Change Strategic Plan. Mayer collaborated with Durglo, engaging with CSKT tribal members and staff to create the first StoryMap.

StoryMaps will serve the dual purpose of enhancing the impact of CSKT’s strategic plan and spotlighting the goals and actions undertaken by the tribes. The project would not have been possible without contributors Kari Kingery, Casey Ryan, ShiNaasha Pete, Les Evarts, Erin Clinkenbeard, Cody Goklish, Blair Libby, and Martin Zobel.

“Their collective dedication and expertise have significantly enriched the story collection, creating a comprehensive resource for the CSKT community,” Bocinsky said. “The University of Montana’s pivotal role in this collaboration underscores its commitment to advancing climate resilience and empowering Indigenous communities.”

Read more about the Esri ArcGIS StoryMaps Competition in this blog post by Esri.