Between Drought and Disparity: American Indian Farmers, Resource Bureaucracy, and Climate Vulnerability in the Southern Plains

Keywords: Resource Bureaucracy, Agricultural Governance, Climate Variability, Vulnerability, American Indian Land

Abstract

Based on research conducted with American Indian farmers and ranchers in southwestern Oklahoma, this paper interrogates how agricultural resource bureaucracies differentially constrain or enable resilience to climate variability. We demon­strate that while extreme weather events have been a persistent impediment to agriculture in the region, for American Indian farmers and ranchers, such efforts have been equally impeded by a his­tory of negative interaction with opaque and fre­quently indifferent systems of overlapping, yet dis­junctive, bureaucracy. Thus we are concerned with precisely how structural vulnerability and climate vulnerability are reproduced in tandem and how such structural constraints have circumscribed nas­cent food sovereignty efforts. Drawing on our research into how farmers in southwest Oklahoma understand the interaction between the impacts—potential and/or experienced—of climate change and different relationships to agriculture and nature, we demonstrate how demoralization and social defeat emerge from the failures of local resource bureaucracies. Those agencies have, ironi­cally, contributed to the vulnerability of the very population they have been established to serve. What we will show is that, caught between the opacity and bureaucratic posturing of two federal resource agencies, many American Indian land­owners simply give up.

See the press release for this article. 

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Tony N. VanWinkle, Sterling College

Faculty in Sustainable Food Systems; Director, Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems

Jack Friedman, University of Oklahoma

Research Scientist, Center for Applied Social Research

Logo of the Swette Center at Arizona State University
Published
2019-12-17
How to Cite
VanWinkle, T., & Friedman, J. (2019). Between Drought and Disparity: American Indian Farmers, Resource Bureaucracy, and Climate Vulnerability in the Southern Plains. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(B), 53-68. https://doi.org/10.5304/10.5304/jafscd.2019.09B.022
Section
Indigenous Food Sovereignty Peer-Reviewed Papers