Across the world communities of indigenous peoples face threats to their access to water as a consequence of climate change. Indeed, water management is one of the most fundamental climate change-related issues in North America and internationally. It involves issues of equity, and is related to the struggles within a growing awareness in political, social, and ecological significance. These characteristics are defined as both cause and symptom of the precarious life on reservations, other tribal territories and urban areas and their relation to climate change.
To date, national, state and provincial governments have done little, if anything, to address the problems of access to water and the impacts of climate change on that access. Courts have also been less than willing to address these issues when they are confronted by them. These inequities have caused conflict between indigenous peoples and these governments.
Two responses to these conflicts and inequities include (1) their mediation, and (2) a program for the long-term sustainable development of water resources in the face of climate change. Such efforts require the participation of the very public whose human rights have been abused. However, those people that are most affected by the scarcity of water in the areas in which they live, are also those least likely to participate in policy and governance organizations, because of the time demands of fetching water, keeping warm or cool, depending on the season, and making a living and because they do not trust “the system”.