Keynote Address

Using Indigenous Storytelling to Advance Resilience

Monday, July 15, 9:15 to 10:00 a.m. MDT
Location: Interlocken A/B

Indigenous storytelling is not merely a cultural act, it involves a dynamic repository of knowledge, wisdom, and practices that have enabled Indigenous communities to thrive and survive in diverse environments. This keynote address will explore how Indigenous storytelling can be leveraged to advance resilience in the face of contemporary challenges, including climate change, environmental degradation, and social upheaval. By analyzing various rituals and forms of storytelling—such as oral histories and mythological narratives—the embedded lessons of disaster risk management, environmental stewardship, and community solidarity will become clear. Strategies for combining Indigenous storytelling with modern scientific knowledge will also be discussed, showing a path for creating holistic approaches to building resilience. Through this exploration, this keynote presentation will highlight the relevance of Indigenous knowledge systems in contemporary resilience discourse and advocate for their inclusion in policy and practice.

James Rattling Leaf

James Rattling Leaf is a global Indigenous consultant and principal of the Wolakota Lab, LLC. He guides and inspires organizations to work more effectively with Indigenous peoples for a more equitable world.

Rattling Leaf has more than 25 years of experience working with the U.S. federal government, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations to develop and maintain effective working relationships with American Indian tribes, tribal colleges and universities, and tribal communities. He specializes in developing programs that use the interface between Indigenous people’s traditional knowledge and Western science. He sees a greater vision of human knowledge that incorporates the many insights of human cultures and provides a context for better understanding the world.

Currently, Rattling Leaf holds co-leadership roles at the Environmental Science Data Innovation and Inclusion Lab; North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center; Rosebud Sioux Tribe; Groups on Earth Observations Indigenous Alliance; and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder.

He is a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and has a Lakota Studies degree from Sinte Gleska University.

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